Too Big to Fail or Nowhere to Go But Down? 5 Companies That Dominate


Today’s news that Apple (s appl)  sells almost 70 percent of songs online had us wondering about other industry giants. Some companies, whether because they make a great product, or were first to a particular industry, or some other reason entirely, make goods that manage to secure a massive amount of market share. Hit products that grab more than half of their market are very rare, and only occasionally can they hold onto that share over a long period of time. Whether these companies are monopolistic or abusive of their power is for others to decide. All we know is, they’re really, really big.

Here are five companies that control their markets. This is our question for you: Will these companies continue to dominate, or are they destined to lose share to competitors as time goes by?

intellogoIntel (s intc) controlled 80.5 percent of the x86 CPU market in the second quarter of 2009, according to Digitimes. The chipmaker’s continued dominance of the PC chip market is impressive, but has drawn significant criticism — and legal action. The EU fined Intel 1.06 billion euros earlier this year for abusing its market position. Oh, and the company controls 49.7 percent of the GPU market, too.

googlelogoGoogle (s goog) may have given up a bit of U.S. search share in July, but it still nabbed 64.7 percent of searches made in the country, according to comScore, a number that puts Bing and Yahoo (s yhoo) to shame. Talk of an antitrust investigation against Google has been brewing for a while, but nothing concrete has come about yet. Don’t count on that lasting.

ituneslogoApple’s iTunes/iPod juggernaut continues to crush all comers. Data released today from NPD credits Apple with 25 percent of all songs sold in the U.S., online and off, in the first six months of 2009, and 69 percent of all songs sold online. The company sells a lot of iPods, too, with the ubiquitous devices accounting for 70 percent of MP3 players sold in the country.

msftlogoOK, maybe this one is a little too obvious. Microsoft’s (s msft) Windows is perhaps the most dominant tech product in existence today. The various flavors of Windows own 93.04 percent of the worldwide operating system market, with Apple a distant second. The company might be giving up ground to Firefox, but Internet Explorer still has more than 67 percent of the browser market. Oh yeah, then there’s Microsoft Office.

black_stretch_logoHewlett-Packard (s hp) has owned the printer market for many years, and this has continued into 2009. The company controlled 49.1 percent of the U.S. printer market in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC. If you look at just inkjets, that number goes even higher.



I wonder why the author mentioned Google Search here. Search is not where the money is. The money is in advertising and let’s be very clear, that is where Google dominates. Search is one of the vehicles that brings it to you, but Google dominates the advertising market. That is also why Microsoft’s desperate moves into search make so little sense. There is money in advertising and Microsoft doesn’t have the products for it

David Robins

No company stays at top for ever! Eventually the paradigm will shift and new leaders emerge. Remember Kodak, Polaroid (which I used to work ), Xerox , GM and many others?

Gabe Lozano

Exactly. Every company that has a rise is destined to have a fall. The only question is how long they remain on top, not if they remain on top. And sometimes, there are multiple runs by the same company (think Apple).


I think if we look deeper, there is a China factor in this, HP, Apple, intel and microsoft to some extent have all outsourced their hardware in China, that is 90% of all manufacturing done for US is in China.

For software almost majority of essential and non decision making work is contributed by India also, maybe around 40% of software work.

The fact is, American consumers are paying 100% more for the top five products than if they would have been in China or India.

The profit goes to the top executives from marketing efforts done in US.

This is no news if we exclude china and India in big five, they are surviving for now, cos of low cost cheap labor in Asia keeping the competition away, don’t know how long this game will last.


China add labor but no margin and mostly (at least today) low qualified or not specific labor.

A PC made in China is leaving most of the know-how and margins in the US (+Japan/Korea/Taiwan). Think about: CPU is American (see post), so are the other key components and the software (see post again). Other HW is coming from Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Is is not the molding of the plastic case and the assy of the components that gives an edge to the product. In fact China is buying most of the value of the PC (or any other device) abroad, make razor thin margin on the added value and sell back to the US (or Europe or Japan).


How about Cisco?

Also, I tried using Facebook Connect to comment and it gave me an error message.

Comments are closed.