Tech stocks often fall into two categories -- hot growth ones and mature, income-generating ones. The former might experience extreme volatility, while the latter's price might go nowhere for years. Therefore, it can be tough to find tech stocks to buy and hold for the next ten years.
Yet some of the best investments are often hidden in plain sight. Let's take a look at three well-known tech titans -- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) -- which could still grow significantly over the next decade.
Google: The business of ubiquitous computing
Google is a long-term buy and hold stock for two simple reasons -- the company controls 58% of the world's Internet searches (Net Market Share) while its mobile-operating system Android dominates 85% of the mobile market (IDC).
Google knows how to leverage those strengths. It used its leading position in search to roll out Android in 2008. It then used Android to expand into smart cars with Android Auto and wearable devices with Android Wear. It also recruits hardware manufacturers to do the heavy lifting to promote its own brand, as seen with its Nexus smartphones and tablets. Google's plan is to offer products for free, which funnel users back to its real money makers -- search and display advertising.
But Google's long-term ambitions go far beyond advertising. The company has also invested in driverless cars, artificial intelligence, military robots, biotechnology, and smart homes. Some of these efforts might not pan out, but each piece of the puzzle offers us a glimpse at Google's dreams of ubiquitous computing.
Between fiscal 2005 and 2013, Google's annual revenue soared 875%. If Google continues to leverage its core strengths to expand into other markets, its top line will keep rising over the next few decades.
Microsoft: "One Windows" tethered to the cloud
Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft intends to evolve from its old business model -- milking software upgrade revenue from its Windows and Office cash cows -- to a cloud-based one straddling multiple hardware and software platforms.
With the upcoming release of Windows 10, Microsoft will offer a unified OS for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Microsoft also recently eliminated the fees or the mobile versions of Office (which started at $70 per year), showing that it cares more about building a solid user base than growing revenue.
Other services and products -- like Bing, Cortana, Band/Health -- will all tether more users to its cloud-based ecosystem, ensuring that it stays relevant in a mobile world dominated by Google and Apple. Since Microsoft Windows is still installed on over 90% of PCs worldwide, the company can leverage that market share to expand into the mobile market, just as Google is now trying to expand from mobile devices to PCs via Chromebooks.
While these efforts will all weigh on Microsoft's bottom line in the near term -- as seen in its first quarter earnings -- they will turn Microsoft into a much more streamlined company over the next few years. Microsoft's annual revenue rose 136% between 2004 and 2014 -- solid growth for a supposedly "mature" tech titan.
Intel: Growth in wearables and mobile processors
Intel's greatest mistake over the past decade was letting ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) conquer the smartphone and tablet markets by licensing its lower-power chip designs to manufacturers like Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, and Nvidia. Despite that embarrassing defeat, Intel is now trying to leapfrog over ARM with an aggressive expansion into wearable devices. ON World forecasts that global smartwatch shipments will soar from 4 million units in 2013 to 330 million in 2018, which could breathe new life into Intel's chip business.
In March, Intel acquired fitness band maker Basis, which led to the launch of its $200 Basis Peak smartwatch. In August, Intel partnered with SMS Audio to produce biometric earbuds which can track a user's heart rate, activity, and calories burned via a companion app. It also struck deals with Fossil and Opening Ceremony to launch fashionable smartwatches. ARM-licensed chips are also found in many smartwatches -- such as Samsung's Galaxy Gear devices -- but Intel is reacting much faster in the wearables market than it did with mobile devices.
This doesn't mean that Intel will forsake its core market of CPUs, which respectively accounts for over 80% and 90% of notebooks and servers worldwide. Intel still has an edge over ARM here, since older Windows software (prior to Windows 8) is only compatible with x86 processors, not ARM-based ones. This means that as long as customers require backwards compatibility, Intel's processors will remain preferable to ARM's. Intel's fanless Core M processors, which are specifically designed for 2-in-1 laptops, have also given the company a new way back into the tablet market via convertible devices. Its Atom processors are also making their way back into Android x86 smartphones, with support from Lenovo/Motorola, Asus, and other manufacturers.
After this transition completes, Intel could bounce back much leaner and stronger than before. Intel's annual revenue already rose 75% between 2003 and 2013, but that growth could accelerate over the next decade as the company widens its defensive moat against ARM.
Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares), Google (C shares), Intel, and Microsoft. 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.