IBM is one of the dominant forces in all of the computerdom and technology in general, has slipped down a little. People argue that the company is fading, here are some of the indicators of IBM are fading:
- The company gave up the PC business, perhaps wisely, but never made up for it with any sort of mobile device. There are no IBM phones as such.
- The name IBM, used to be emblazoned on all sorts of products from butcher scale to sycnhro-clocks, card sorters, computers of every sort to giant stores. Now the only thing it seems to be doing is cloud computing business.
- The company has been buying itself as fast as it can to reduce the number of outstanding shares. By decreasing the number of shares it’s decling revenue still looks good on an earnings per share basis.
R&D’s help to IBM attain its value
IBM’s real value is with the R&D folks, who helped IBM top the list of the companies with the largest number of US patent granted year after year. This has never stopped growing. Last year it was 7,355 patents granted for IBM. The patent system is out of control since many of these patents are idiotic software algorithms or blocking patents, designed to keep others away from their technologies. The point though is that IBM has been leading this pack for over two decades with no signs of slowing down. That is unless you think 7355 is slowing down from its 2014 tally of 7534 patents. In 2013, it secured a mere 6809.
These numbers are outrageous when you stop to consider that patents were intended to protect small inventors and companies. Now the system is used to dominate that small fry.
IBM’s current patents
Many of IBM’s current patents are about data analytics and so called cognitive computing, like Watson. It in turn collects over a billion dollar from licensing, which sounds low, because on its licensing page, IBM claims to have 25000 experts who will work with you to find the right patents for your company. Those experts generally generates at least 100,000$ in business each every year. This makes the sense when the company claims to drop $6 billion into R&D every year. In fact, this would not surprise me if most of its revenues were from license.
This is where IBM had always headed. Its products were just platform for more inventions. Once it gets many inventions patented like, ThinkPad, it sells off the product line and move on to something else. Right now, its artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Products like Watson are in news to keep you thinking that IBM is actually a product company and not what amounts to massive, institutionalized patent trolls.
IBM has already started thinking about this long before the days of IBM PC. There is probably no company’s making hard disks, semi conductors, laptops , and operating system, or software of any sort including social networking sites such as Twitter, that are not paying fee to IBM.