The 10 richest tech companies

Owen Thomas · 10/14/08 07:00PM

Where's the debt crisis in Silicon Valley? The knock-on effects are all too real, but frozen credit markets have had little direct effect on business operations, aside from possibly scotching the debt-fueled sales of Alltel and Nextel. That's because technology companies are run by paranoid sorts who like to keep large cash reserves, in case some upstart renders their market obsolete. In good times, activist shareholders whinged about their parsimonious habits, but the cash hoarders are now sitting pretty — and could be set for acquisition binges.One company which listened, to its detriment, to shareholders was Microsoft. When Bill Gates ran the software company, he liked to keep a year's worth of expenses on hand, in case things went awry. Microsoft is no longer quite so stingy with its cash; it dribbles some out in dividends, and gave shareholders a $32 billion payout a few years back. Good thing it didn't shell out $44 billion for Yahoo; that deal would have left it cash-poor and debt-ridden, at exactly the wrong time. Even so, Microsoft's balance sheet is no longer the most sterling in tech. So who's got cash on hand? Here are the 10 richest tech companies, from a Yahoo Finance screening. (I left out companies, like IBM, whose cash was matched by equally outsized debts.)

Google's Android promises are coming up empty

Nicholas Carlson · 06/23/08 03:20PM

Last fall, Google said third-party devices sporting its Android mobile OS would hit the market by the second half of 2008. With that deadline approaching, Google now says the fourth quarter is more realistic. Even that's pushing it, say the device makers. Sprint won't release a phone scheduled for this year until 2009 and the same goes for China Mobile, which planned a phone release for the third quarter. "This is where the pain happens," Google's director of mobile platforms Andy Rubin told the Wall Street Journal. "We are very, very close." Phone makers and Android app developers don't believe it, telling the Journal its too hard to build on Android while Google keeps changing it. Google's plan is to own the mobile platform the way Microsoft owned the PC. Who knew the Mountain View crew would skip straight to Vista? (Photo by traviscrawford)

1 in 10 iPhones are on China Mobile — and that's a headache for Jobs

Jordan Golson · 02/15/08 06:00PM

China Mobile, the No. 1 cell company in China, claims there are 400,000 unlocked iPhones running on its network. That's more than 10 percent of the 3.7 million Steve Jobs announced Apple had shipped through mid-January. A very impressive stat to be sure, but why did China Mobile release it now? Apple and China Mobile have been in negotiations for a while about bringing the iPhone to China. The talks had reached an impasse over how much of a kickback Apple would receive on subscriber fees.

Jordan Golson · 01/16/08 05:33PM

Apple and China's largest mobile provider China Mobile have called off discussions for now. No. 2 carrier China Unicom, with one-third the customers of China Mobile, will be next in line for Apple talks. As a smaller company, the thinking goes, China Unicom will have more to gain from the iPhone and thus be more willing to bend to Apple's financial and technical requirements. China Mobile recently agreed to become the Chinese distributor for RIM's BlackBerry. [The Motley Fool]