Welcome to week 67 of my stock-picking throwdown with Mr. Market. Let's get right to the numbers:


Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return





Harris & Harris












Taiwan Semiconductor








S&P 500 SPDR








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

That's two weeks in a row, Mr. Market. My tech portfolio took advantage of a shaky S&P to gain 76 basis points in this three-year contest. (Go here to see how it all began.)

If Mr. Market can't decide which way is up in the coming weeks, it may be due to the uncertainty that follows having a handful of megabanks hold the most valuable cards in the deck we call the U.S. economy. Combined, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), and Citigroup hold some $6 trillion in assets.

Don't think that's a problem? That the banks have smartened up and will no longer act cavalierly about the possibility of reckless behavior ushering in financial armageddon? Yeah, take a closer look at the fantasy world Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) lives in.

The week in tech
Of course, bankers aren't the only dreamers out there. Techies are dreaming big, too.

Consider Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Yesterday, the search king demonstrated its widely anticipated Chrome OS to a gaggle of reporters gathered at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

Not surprisingly, we're seeing mixed reactions. Skeptics correctly argue that (a) Chrome OS isn't built on anything that's fundamentally new, and (b) it doesn't resemble any operating system in use today. At best, they call it a souped-up browser.

They very well could be right. Chrome OS is still a year away from launch. Developers could use that time to create a mind-blowing environment, but we're not there yet. Not even close.

What's more, Chrome OS is a tribute to tech irony. The underlying code may be open-source, but Google will enact strict controls over what sorts of hardware will be allowed to run the OS. Among the requirements: premium solid-state drives.

Wave goodbye to cheap Chrome netbooks, kids. No way is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) going to sell a solid-state system for under $500. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) must be thrilled.

So that's the bad news. Here's the good: More software is moving into the cloud, and what Google has shown of Chrome OS looks nice. Rudimentary, yes, but also nice. Mix in a dollop of security and a few dashes of extensible code from third-party developers, and Chrome OS could lead a new market for functional Web appliances.

Either way, I think my Foolish colleague Anders Bylund has it right. He says the surge in interest in Chrome suggests that more users are trusting in the Web, and that's really all that matters for Google. 

Yet Anders and I could be wrong. One of the great truths about tech is that overnight successes take years to develop and even longer to create value. Patience and diversification are the keys to tech investing gains.

Look at David Gardner. He produced a decade of 20% returns in the real-money Rule Breaker portfolio by betting on a broad portfolio of innovators, and holding for the long term. Tom Gardner's "simpleton portfolio" was also a 10-year winner. I believe that, with my tech portfolio, I will achieve similar success.

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

  • The tussle between Oracle and the EU over MySQL will go on a little longer. According to Reuters, Oracle requested more time to make its argument to regulators. Former MySQL investor (and current advocate for the get-Oracle-out-of-MySQL's-hair crowd) Florian Mueller said in an email to me that "if the EU's objections were baseless, Oracle wouldn't need more time." I suspect he's reading too much into the request. After all, this is a company well known for its brass-knuckles tactics. Oracle may be prepping a haymaker.
  • Akamai signed a deal this week to deliver high-definition content via EPIX, a cable movie channel that's also available online. Several big Hollywood outfits are backing the service, including Viacom and Lionsgate.

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

Get your clicks with more techie Foolishness:

Akamai, Google, and Harris & Harris are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Microsoft and Nokia are Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the market-beating Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Akamai, Google, 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 owns shares of Intel and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is tech-tastic.