New Toys From Tech Giants: Smart Move?

Just like the rest of us, every now and then a tech company needs change. While we might go and get a new haircut or buy some new clothes, the tech equivalent is to think up a brand new toy. Think of Google CEO Sergey Brin riding around the New York subway with a pair of Google glasses, beaming with childlike excitement over his company's latest invention.  

Now, a couple other tech greats have revealed plans for unexpected new gadgets. It could either mean the companies are restless for something new, that larger forces are threatening to fundamentally alter their business models, or both.

Siri will look great on your wrist
Whether you're a bull or a bear about its business, you can't deny that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has created tech wizardry that has revolutionized basically every industry it set its mind to -- whether computers, music, or phones. With its stock price at a startling low of $467, this company is out to prove yet again that it can dominate any market it chooses.

The latest rumor in the Apple mill is that the tech great will soon be setting its sights on the world of watches. The "iWatch" is the company's first attempt at creating wearable technology, and while its exact uses have not been revealed, the product will be capable of many of the same tasks as an iPhone or iPad. Apple is so gung-ho on the idea, in fact, that it has assembled a team of 100 designers to set to work on it. 

Is this the next great idea, or a misstep? Only time will tell. In the meantime, even though Apple's price might be lagging lately, it still has well over $100 billion in its cash coffers. This money could be an ample safety net, should Apple choose to dip into these reserves for this new product. If the iWatch makes the same unexpected splash as the iPod, it could lead to a big payoff on a risky venture. And Apple, of course, is no stranger to taking a risk.

Intel Inside... your TV
Apple's not the only one looking to test its merits in a new industry. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , once the darling of the microchip market, announced this week that it would be expanding its product line into the realm of web TV. At the recent D: Dive into Media conference held by tech zine AllThingsD, Intel corporate vice president Erik Huggers announced that the company has been working for almost a year to create Intel Media. Thus far, the group is an amalgamation of former Apple, Netflix, and Google employees who are setting their minds to work on a new kind of Internet television platform.

Intel's reasons for expanding its horizons stem from more than simple wanderlust. The demand for microchips in the tech industry has begun to diminish, with many companies (including Apple) choosing to create their own hardware for products like the iPhone. Intel is still bringing in revenue of nearly $13 billion each quarter, but its stock price is nowhere near what it was in 2000. If trends continue the way they are, retaining former highs will be less and less likely, unless the company goes in a completely new direction.

Playing for profits
Whether the iWatch or Intel Media create a boon or a bust for Apple and Intel, the new products prove that neither company has lost its sense of imagination or fearlessness. Even when you're playing at the top of your game, it can still be frightening to move forward into the unknown. But this is the tech industry we're talking about, where new innovations spring up overnight and visionaries can be rewarded a thousand times over for their efforts. For these companies, the risks of creating a new toy are scary, but the possible benefits are too good to pass up.

There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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