Technology is in a higher demand today than at any other point in history, and an increasing number of people have access to an increasingly complex and diverse body of technological devices. As a result, the technology market provides some of the fiercest competition on earth, and companies are in a constant battle to outdo one another.
It's not enough to create technology that works - it also has to work as quickly as possible, within a device that's portable and pleasing to look at. One of the world's leading technology and software companies is Intel Corporation (INTC), which is internationally renowned for the quality and speed of its computers, processors and other devices and software. So, is this company's stock performing in the way we would expect it to perform? And how is it faring in comparison to its competition?
Currently, Intel's stock is trading at around $27, and over the past 12 months, price-to-earnings ratios have risen slightly from 10.8 to 11.4. NVIDIA's (NVDA) ratio has fared better, with a drop from 46.5 to 15.9 in this period, while ARM Holdings (ARMH) has also made improvements, from a concerning 104.9 to a more respectable 54.4. So, is Intel succeeding where its competitors are failing?
Intel is successfully committing to a type of technology that many other companies are neglecting. Intel recently announced that it is going to be focusing a great deal of time, energy and capital on the development of its Ultrabook range - a range of laptop computers which are smaller, lighter and more portable than traditional laptops, but more sturdy and with a larger capacity than netbooks.
Intel plans to add another 57 models of Ultrabook laptops to its range, each of which will be installed with the latest generation of Intel core processors, making the laptops faster and more efficient than their predecessors. While very few other technology companies are investing in Ultrabook computers, Intel obviously sees potential in the range and is thus leading the market in the development and production of the technology.
A marketing campaign developed with firms such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) looks set to target audiences across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, areas where Intel has performed best. Indeed, HP thinks that 50% of all revenue in India could come from ultrabooks by 2014, and with anti-theft technology that allows a system to be disabled remotely in the event of loss or theft, investing in these Intel machines will be tempting for businesses and consumers.
Of course, Intel is also aware of what is currently popular on the market in terms of tablet computing technology, and has released its own unique take on the handheld computer. The Intel Studybook is a tablet computer designed especially for students (of all ages), and is equipped with software such as the highly successful Intel Learning Series software.
Additionally, the tablet is said to be more durable and sturdy than traditional tablets, thanks to its water and dust-resistance, and the shock absorbers that are fitted inside the screen, making it ideal for a younger consumer who may previously have been excluded from the tablet market. Not only will this device broaden Intel's consumer base, but it also demonstrates the company's creativity and intuition when it comes to handling and producing technology - and indeed, fellow analysts believe that it could double stock prices in the next two years, given how it used in many everyday devices.
Another demonstration of Intel's creativity came with the launch of Intel's first ever smartphone back in April. The phone, which was developed in collaboration with the Lenovo Mobile Internet and Digital Home Business Group, features a 4.5 inch screen, an 8MP camera and Android operating system 2.3. The launch was timed perfectly, as reports were starting to claim that Apple (AAPL) may be able to overtake Intel as the world's leading provider of mobile processors, I feel that the launch suggests that Intel is not willing to go down without a fight.
A slightly less mainstream, but nonetheless significant development from Intel came recently in the form of the company's new range of Solid-State Drive (SSD) 910 Series. These data storage devices are becoming increasingly popular as technology, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, become smaller and smaller in size. These hard drives are capable of storing a huge amount of data while only taking up a tiny amount of physical space within the device. The two main models of SSD available, the 400GB and the 800GB models, will work with both new and existing Intel products, meaning that the market for this new technology has the potential to be huge.
Recent reports have confirmed that Intel has also signed contracts which put the company in collaboration with the global software and Internet company Maxthon. This portrays Intel in a slightly different yet equally positive light, because the collaboration aims to "make the web faster for everyone", suggesting that any benefits which come out of the project will benefit all technology companies, not just Intel. This creates the impression that Intel's motivations are not solely economic, but that the company is concerned with the creation of equipment and software which will genuinely improve our experience of technology.
All things considered, it's not surprising that Intel's performance has seen such a significant and steady increase over the past 12 months. All shareholders can hope for is more of the same from Intel - the company is dynamic and forward-thinking, and looks set to hold its place among the heavyweights of the technology world. However, as suggested above, Intel needs to be very wary of its major competitor, Apple - if any company will be able to usurp Intel, it will be Apple.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.