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Last December, Motley Fool writers chose Our Top 5 Tech Stocks for 2010 and crushed the market by an average of 70%, but this is a new year, and we have new picks.
Our approach to tech investing is simple, as Tim Beyers wrote, "Great tech stocks are all the same. They generate high returns because they're platforms, generating support not only from their users, but also an entire ecosystem of partners and developers."
Before we get to the selections, let's first review where we've been.
The year in tech
The year started off with Google deciding to stop censoring its search results in China. Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) benefited greatly as its market share in Chinese search rose from 58% at the beginning of the year to 73% by November.
The major trend of the year though, by far, was the staggering growth in mobile. For example, in 2009, 300 million apps were downloaded. In 2010, 5 billion apps were downloaded. That's more than 1500% growth! Besides the huge growth in apps, Motricity (Nasdaq: MOTR ) , a mobile phone content company, IPO'd and recently doubled. Apple remained on top with its iPhone and added the iPad to the mix. It has nearly broken the $300 billion market cap barrier. Finally, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) was forgotten by investors and now trades under 10 times earnings.
Speaking of forgotten, one issue that was expected to be prominent but has largely gone nowhere was network neutrality. The most recent grumblings came after a dispute involving Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT ) . Level 3 had notified Comcast it was about to send data from a new deal with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) through it and didn't want a rate increase. This later created a stir when Level 3 said Comcast was violating the idea of net neutrality after Comcast demanded additional payments for the additional traffic it would handle. While this incident has different implications from net neutrality, rules for net neutrality are still being hammered out, and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes to have regulation in place by the end of the year.
Finally, tech buyouts are back, as well are IPOs. Intel bought McAfee, HP bought ArcSight and 3Par, and IBM bought Netezza. There were more than 30 tech IPOs including Meru Networks (Nasdaq: MERU ) and MaxLinear (NYSE: MXL ) .
What you've all been waiting for
It's from this vantage point that we look ahead to 2011. Our writers selected stocks they thought were not only priced for profits, but had platforms that are made to last. With the new year fast approaching, here our top tech stocks for 2011:
Google is on our list again this year; Anders Bylund explains why Google is unbeatable, cheap, and still a rule breaker.
You may not know it, but LivePerson is the nation's leader in Web-based live chat support with thousands of clients. Rick Munarriz explains why he thinks LivePerson will be a big winner in 2011.
3. Qlik Technologies
Tim Beyers explains how this disruptive analytics company has growth momentum, a huge market, and hidden value.
4. IPG Photonics
A perfect storm has sent the fiber laser business skyrocketing. Eric Jhonsa explains why IPG Photonics has room to run.
EMC has been steady while its 80%-owned subsidiary VMware is taking off. Eric Bleeker explains how EMC is a cash generator that stands to benefit from explosive data storage trends and has a powerful cloud computing kicker on top.
What do you think the top tech stock will be in 2011? Please read what my colleagues have to say, and let us know your best ideas using the comments box below.