Why Intel, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Google Will Shape Tech Today

There's no shortage of tech news today, so let's get right to the five main storylines. Apple has a big product announcement while the other four companies all report after the bell this afternoon.

Apple puts the spotlight on education
Apple
's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) holding a media event at 10 a.m. today. Apologies to anyone out there excited for a new iPad to be unveiled, because this looks to be strictly the unveiling of new software. The launch should focus on improvements to iBooks, with the strong possibility of a textbook service as well. In Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, it was revealed that he was extremely focused on iPads being able to transform education, so in many ways this is one of Jobs' final visions being played out. Oh, and it could attack an area of strength of burgeoning Amazon.com. That too.

Microsoft's cold winter
This quarter could be the beginning of the wheels coming off the bus that's driven technology for the past 20 years. Earnings are expected to slide backward from last year, which isn't an enviable position when most other tech giants are showing heady growth. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) will tell you that the Thai floods are to blame, but that only partially explains their malaise. As PC growth moves to countries where piracy is rampant and Microsoft can't collect money on its operating systems, the company is in trouble.

Intel hits a rocky patch
Intel
(Nasdaq: INTC  ) has been the little -- OK, big -- engine that could in technology across the past year. Despite all the noise about the death of the PC, they're delivering huge earnings. Those huge growth rates should come to a screeching halt this quarter; Intel has already warned investors to pare back their expectations. However, the company should still grow while fellow PC-centric peer Microsoft sees its earnings either fall backward or tread water. The reason? Intel's selling like gangbusters to countries like Turkey, Indonesia... and yes, even China. Growth in many of those countries has fallen, but is still robust. As Intel produces a hardware product that can't be pirated, it can profit from this growth while software companies like Microsoft see their software pirated left and right.

Google continues the search bonanza
It's set to be another victory lap for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) this quarter. The company is expected to grow earnings by about 20%. This follows months of gains for the company after investors had a brief period of insanity and sold it off after it acquired Motorola Mobility. Here's the bottom line for Google: It can always surprise you by ramping up its expenses and hiring like mad from one quarter to the next. However, its search business continues to boom and its growth is the envy of every company this side of Apple.

Big blue keeps rolling along
While IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) might be ignored reporting next to splashier tech players like Google, that'd be a huge mistake. Why? Well, of the roughly $3 trillion spent on technology a year, it's businesses that drive the vast majority of the spending.

And IBM owns the business world.

As you're looking at IBM, we'll get a better opportunity to meet its new CEO and will also be able to see if slowing growth in countries like Brazil and China took any wind from its sails in the growth markets that keep propelling its business. My guess is that IBM will be just fine as it continues leaving competitors like HP in the dust. Expect earnings to be up about 10% from last year.

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Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Apple, International Business Machines, Google, Amazon.com, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating bull call spread positions in Apple, Microsoft, and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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