Bear markets bite. Tech stocks bite back.

Frequently, anyway. The dot-com bubble was a disaster for most tech stocks. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and many others have yet to recover to their 2000 highs. And yet the forward march of innovation creates winners in good markets and bad. How to find them? Follow the money.

Where the money is headed
Researcher IDC says about $42 billion will be spent on cloud computing services by 2012, up roughly threefold from today's levels.

Impressive, yes? Sure, but before we get too excited, it's important to know how IDC defines "cloud computing services." It's not infrastructure but rather the services that businesses and consumers adopt; software they pull from the cloud, such as Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Apps suite.

Trouble is, we don't yet know what these services will be, or what they'll look like. What we have instead are emerging platforms, and it's a good bet that most services will be built upon them. Google's App Engine, for example. Microsoft's Live.com. Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Web Services. EMC's (NYSE:EMC) storage on demand. salesforce.com's (NYSE:CRM) Force.com toolset.

These suites, and the developers who adopt them, will create the services that IDC foresees: services built for small businesses and emerging-market firms -- think China, India, and Brazil -- looking to seize massive growth, but which lack adequate time and capital to create their own systems for accounting, inventory management, and the like. Cloud services, IDC asserts, will remove the barriers. I agree.

The revolution is upon you, Mr. Market. I suggest moving out of the way.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.