Welcome to week 41 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM)

$22.23

$20.83

(6.3%)

Harris & Harris

$6.22

$4.09

(34.2%)

IBM

$126.97**

$101.89

(19.8%)

Oracle

$22.69**

$18.65

(17.8%)

Taiwan Semiconductor

$10.34

$10.53

1.8%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

(15.26%)

S&P 500 SPDR

$124.37**

$89.02

(28.42%)

DIFFERENCE

--

--

13.16

Source: Yahoo! Finance.
*Tracking began on Aug. 7, 2008.
**Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

A mixed week for Mr. Market was slightly better for my tech portfolio. Select stocks are rising, now that we're seeing evidence that it could be time to get back into the market. The VIX fell back toward its normal range, the gap in the TED spread is closing, and the market's real price-to-earnings ratio, while higher, remains a tad below historical standards. Further rallying seems likely over the short term.

But that may not happen. Not only have some stocks rallied beyond comprehension -- Palm is a good example -- but desperate credit card issuers such as Citigroup (NYSE:C) also talk as if their only option is to stick it to their most creditworthy customers.

Wonderful. Chances are good that these and other ailing financial firms will continue to foster volatility in an uncertain market, even if economic indicators are improving.

The week in tech
Meanwhile, optimism reigns in tech. Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) investors seem to be utterly convinced that streaming content through the iPhone and iPod Touch will add billions to the satrad star's coffers. My friend Rick Munarriz is less convinced, as am I.

Wi-Fi levels the playing field for listeners, providing multiple audio options for music and other content on the go. None are as good as Sirius or XM, of course. But if you don't want to foot the bill for extra service -- and we already know that some won't -- you've got choices as a listener. Pandora is just one.

Meanwhile, even as enthusiasm for the iPhone soars, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is losing to Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) in the race for smartphone market share, researcher Gartner reports. RIM improved its share by 6.6 percentage points in the first quarter, slightly better than iPhone's 5.5-point improvement.

Certainly, a Verizon giveaway helped the BlackBerry win some share, but there's still plenty of enthusiasm for the device. "The BlackBerry is to the serious business crowd what the iPhone is to the young adult crowd. 'Nuff said," wrote CAPS investor FoxKestrel earlier this month.

Fair? I'm not so sure; I use my iPhone for business constantly. Plus, the lines are blurring. Both businesses and consumers are contributing heavily to the digital deluge that fuels demand for data storage technology from the likes of NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), which this week agreed to spend $1.5 billion to acquire industry peer Data Domain.

Still, if history holds, tech optimists should temper their enthusiasm and buy only with the very long haul in mind. That's how David Gardner produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breakers portfolio. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with these five tech stocks, I will achieve similar success.

Checkup time!
Now let's move on to the rest of today's update:

  • If there were a corporate equivalent to the world of competitive eating contests, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and his endless appetite for deals would win every challenge. His latest meal: Virtual Iron, a privately held specialist supplier of virtual machine technology, which Oracle bought for an undisclosed sum last week.
  • Time for another Foolish duel. This time, I'm pitting Akamai against Rick's choice, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Which would you buy right now?

There's your check-up. See you back here on Friday for more tech stock talk.

Get your clicks with further techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Amazon and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and Google, and stock positions in Akamai, Harris & Harris, IBM, Oracle, and Taiwan Semiconductor, at the time of publication. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool.

The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.