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Stay Tuned to These Tech Stories at Microsoft, Google, Apple in 2013


Every plot has an ending, even for these tech giants.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Every story has an ending, eventually. George R.R. Martin could probably tap out sequels to Game of Thrones almost forever, unless those damned dragons roast every one of his characters, or Queen Cersei gets them first.

Prediction: That won't happen in 2013. But in our Earth-bound world, some of the best continuing sagas really will get wrapped up in 2013.

You think that metaphor is a stretch? Fair enough, but we're all crawling on our hands and knees to the end of 2012, aren't we, so give us a break, eh?

Here are a few of the continuing sagas in Internet technology that should get resolved in 2013, some with cheers all around and others with a dull thud.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT): Pop or Drop?

Early sales figures for Microsoft's all-important touch-friendly Windows 8 devices in the first quarter of its release failed to impress. This means precisely nothing.

The software is new and radically different. The high-end (business-oriented) version of the flagship Windows 8 device, Microsoft's own Surface Pro, doesn't arrive until January. There are safer, cheaper choices for consumers in tablets and laptops.

In short, this is not Christmas candy. Watch sales for at least the first two quarters of 2013 to see if Microsoft has successfully reinvented itself or smashed headlong into a brick wall.

Here's one menacing bit of news: A survey for USA Today shows that about one third of current Windows users are so wary of Windows 8 that they're considering switching to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Nokia (NYSE:NOK): Do or Die

While Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia was falling off the radar of the Western world, it was hanging in there as phone maker of the emerging world. That could work in its favor now, as it rolls out the Lumia line that will determine its future, or lack of one.

The Nokia Lumia 920T drew crowds, and sold out in two hours, when it was introduced at the company's Shanghai store earlier this week. It now appears at the top of the best-sellers list for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) China, above the Apple iPhone 5.

Here in the US, only a month after its introduction, Nokia is offering big discounts on Lumia devices - some customers can even get the phone for free - through carriers AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ). With no hard numbers, there's no telling whether that signals determination or desperation.

Nokia is certainly that eager to grab significant market share for its Lumia phone line. Since the devices run on Windows 8, Microsoft shares the enthusiasm.

Nokia is reported to be preparing to introduce its first Windows 8 tablet as early as February.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): Prove It Again

Has Apple lost its mojo? Well, it has lost 20% of its stock value in the last three months, so it's a valid question to ask, even of a company that has $176 billion in assets.

A maps app that became a viral joke. Public oustings of high-profile executives. Questions about whether it still has "one more thing" up its sleeve. Face it: Apple had a crappy year.

While it was catching flak, Apple managed to sell 100 million phones. An impressive number, but a shrinking global market share. Apple ends 2012 with its highest US smartphone market share ever, 53%.

But in the rest of the world, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android is more popular, particularly when it is installed on a device made by Samsung. And way-late Windows 8 is gaining momentum (see above).

The tablet story is similar: Half the tablets sold are Apple iPads, but the competition is broad and diverse, with plenty of choices across all price points.

Here's what we think we know about Apple in 2013: There will be yet another thinner lighter iPad as early as March. But a truly revolutionary new Apple product, on the scale of Apple TV, is looking unlikely for 2013. And, as Business Insider points out, they ain't the only ones who have been thinking about television for the past 20 years or so.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG): Keep It Moving

Interesting fact buried in a story from The Guardian about the competition between Google and Apple: It seems that search traffic overall declined in September for the first time since 2006. In part, this is because more people are relying on smartphone apps to collect and access the information they need.

That threatens Google's core search business in a couple of ways. It means fewer searches on its main pages, and therefore fewer opportunities to deliver ads to users.

Unless the user is on a Google Android device, it also means Google doesn't get the chance to deliver an ad based on your location, a newer and faster-growing way to make a buck off Web use.

But Google has got 72% of worldwide mobile device sales at the moment. In 2013, the competition gets hotter than ever, with both Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIM) and Nokia truly going for broke.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) Who'da Thunk It?
Who would have predicted that Yahoo would end 2012 on the Goldman Sachs "conviction buy" list? Marissa Meyer has a plan. And in 2013, she'll have the chance to prove it.
Position in MSFT and NOK.
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