Exactly which three tech companies will be top of the tree come 2020? That’s impossible to say with any certainty, but at least one expert thinks that Apple’s days as one of the tech world’s giants are numbered, while he also had plenty of nice things to say about Bitcoin’s blockchain, and its potential to disrupt the Internet.
Fred Wilson, co-founder and partner at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, was speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York on Tuesday. During his interview, Wilson made the bold prediction that Apple would no longer be a top three tech firm by 2020. Instead, Google, Facebook and one other company that no one’s even heard of yet will take its place.
“I think they’re just too rooted to the hardware,” Wilson said of Apple. “And I think that hardware is increasingly becoming more commodity. They don’t have anything in the cloud to speak of, and the stuff they have in the cloud I think is largely not good. And I just don’t think they think about data and the cloud in the way you need to think about things.”
Wilson also had good things to say about Twitter, which he thinks will become one of the top ten tech firms by 2020. However, he doesn’t think it’s quite ready to crack the top three just yet, though it may get there eventually.
It’s fair to say that Wilson isn’t exactly Apple’s biggest fan. Although once a major shareholder in the company, he chose to dump all of his shares on January 7, 2009, just after then CEO Steve Jobs issued a statement about his health that Wilson – correctly – believed was untrue.
“As good as the company is,” Wilson wrote at the time, “I just can’t own a stock when I don’t believe the company is being straight with investors.”
Then, three years ago Wilson had a second dig at Apple, telling a group of app developers they’d be better off writing their apps for Android ahead of iOS. Simply because Android has by far the bigger audience, and he believes that developers should make their apps available to the largest population of users first.
It might seem nigh-impossible right now, but if Apple did become less prominent it wouldn’t be the first time a so-called tech ‘giant’ has fallen from grace. One only need look at Yahoo, which was once king of the Internet, yet is now expecting to lose its Fortune 500 status for the first time when the next list is published in June.
Bright future for Bitcoin?
Besides slating Apple, Wilson also took time to discuss the prospects of Bitcoin, and particularly the Blockchain, which he believes could have a big impact on areas like Internet identity in the next couple of years.
“Right now you need someone to be the arbiter of identity – either Facebook, Twitter or Google – somebody who developers can use for login and other information sharing,” Wilson explained. “I think you could do the same thing with a block-chain architecture, where there is no third party, there is no clearinghouse of identity information.”
Wilson didn’t name any names, but said he was optimistic that someone would emerge from the Bitcoin community to disrupt the online identity space – possibly someone like OneName, which uses the Blockchain from both Bitcoin and Namecoin to provide an identity service for developers.
Wilson is known for investing early in companies that have become major players in technology and the Web, such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Kickstarter.
You can watch Wilson’s interview in full over on CNN.