Previous Blogs

June 13, 2017
Computing Evolves from Outside In to Inside Out

June 6, 2017
The Overlooked Surprises of Apple’s WWDC Keynote

May 30, 2017
Are AR and VR Only for Special Occasions?

May 23, 2017
The Digital Car

May 16, 2017
Digital Assistants Drive New Meta-Platform Battle

May 9, 2017
Getting Smart on Smart Speakers

May 5, 2017
Intel Opens High-Tech "Garage"

May 2, 2017
The Hidden Value of Analog

April 28, 2017
Google’s Waymo Starts Driving Passengers

April 25, 2017
The Robotic Future

April 21, 2017
Sony Debuts New Pro Camera

April 18, 2017
Should Apple Build a Car?

April 14, 2017
PC Market Outlook Improving

April 11, 2017
Little Data Analytics

April 7, 2017
Facebook Debuts Free Version of Workplace Collaboration Tool

April 4, 2017
Samsung Building a Platform Without an OS

March 31, 2017
Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Creators Update Release Date

March 28, 2017
Augmented Reality Finally Delivers on 3D Promise

March 24, 2017
Intel Creates AI Organization

March 21, 2017
Chip Magic

March 17, 2017
Microsoft Unveils Teams Chat App

March 14, 2017
Computing on the Edge

March 7, 2017
Cars Need Digital Safety Standards Too

February 28, 2017
The Messy Path to 5G

February 24, 2017
AMD Launches Ryzen CPU

February 21, 2017
Rethinking Wearable Computing

February 17, 2017
Samsung Heir Arrest Unlikely to Impact Sales

February 14, 2017
Modern Workplaces Still More Vision Than Reality

February 10, 2017
Lenovo Develops Energy-Efficient Soldering Technology

February 7, 2017
The Missing Map from Silicon Valley to Main Street

January 31, 2017
The Network vs. The Computer

January 27, 2017
Facebook Adds Support For FIDO Security Keys

January 24, 2017
Voice Drives New Software Paradigm

January 20, 2017
Tesla Cleared of Fault in NHTSA Crash Probe

January 17, 2017
Inside the Mind of a Hacker

January 13, 2017
PC Shipments Stumble but Turnaround is Closer

January 10, 2017
Takeaways from CES 2017

January 3, 2017
Top 10 Tech Predictions for 2017

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

June 20, 2017
The Power of Hidden Tech

By Bob O'Donnell

The tech world is dominated by some of the most powerful brands in the world. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Intel, Samsung and others are featured in the mainstream and business media as much, if not more, than the industrial giants of old. In fact, they’ve become common household names.

They’ve earned their solid reputations through successful products, hard work, and their ability to deliver the kinds of financial results that have made them the darlings of the investment community too.

As impressive and powerful as this group may be, however, they certainly aren’t the only companies in tech doing important work. Though it’s easy to forget, there’s an enormous number of lesser-known tech players that are helping to enable the amazing tech-driven advances that we all enjoy.

At the core, there is an entire range of companies creating the semiconductor chips that sit at the heart not only of our connected devices, but the servers and other infrastructure that enable the cloud-based services to which we’ve all become accustomed. Companies that offer the designs and intellectual property that are used in chip designs, most notably UK-based ARM, but also Synopsys and Imagination Technologies, play an extremely important, but often overlooked, role in driving the modern architectures behind everything from IoT to VR and AI.

Another often ignored step in the chain is for test and measurement technologies. Lesser-known companies like National Instruments are helping drive the components, core technologies, and final products for everything from 5G radios to autonomous cars to industrial IoT and much more.

In semiconductor chips and other components, you have big names like Qualcomm and Nvidia, but there is an enormous range of lesser-known companies building key parts for all kinds of devices. From Texas Instruments (TI) and Renesas in automotive, to Silicon Labs for home networking, to South Korea-based LG Philips Display and Taiwan-based AUO for displays, to Synaptics for fingerprint readers, there’s a huge ecosystem of critical component suppliers.

Even some of the bigger names in semiconductors are branching off into new areas for which they aren’t commonly known. Later today, for example, AMD will be formally unveiling the details of its Epyc server CPU, the first credible threat to Intel’s dominance in the data center in about 10 years. Not to be outdone, Intel is making significant new investments in AI silicon with Nervana and Mobileye for connected cars. Qualcomm’s audio division—part of their little-known acquisition of Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) a few years back—just unveiled a complete suite of components and reference designs for smart speakers, like Amazon’s Echo.

In addition to hardware, there is, of course, a huge number of lesser-known software players. Companies like VMWare and Citrix continue to drive cloud-based computing and more efficient use of local data centers through server and application virtualization and other critical technologies. Application development and delivery in the enterprise and in the cloud is being enabled by Docker, a company that offers the ability to split applications into multiple pieces called containers, that can be virtualized, replicated, and much more.

Vendors like Ubuntu are not only enabling user-friendly Linux-based desktops for developers and other enthusiasts, they are also offering powerful Microsoft OS alternatives for servers. In the case of software-defined storage and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) server appliances, companies like Nutanix, Pivot3, and others are enabling entirely new software-defined data centers that promise to revolutionize how computing power is created and delivered from public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Though they will likely never get the kind of recognition that the big brand tech players do, the products, technologies, and contributions of these and thousands more lesser-known tech companies play an incredibly critical role in the tech world. By driving many of the key behind-the-scenes developments, these types of companies provide the efficient, safe, and effective tech products and services that have enabled the bigger brands to become such an essential part of our daily lives.

Here's a link to the column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in regular audio podcasts in conjunction with the team at
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