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As you can see above, the technology sector can be boom or bust. The same is true of individual companies and market segments within the space. Sometimes a technology seems like it might be the next big thing -- think 3D television just a few years ago -- only for it to fail spectacularly in the marketplace. It's not even fair to call any of these three brands computer companies anymore.
They operate in a variety of other segments that are all part of the technology market, including but not limited to: Artificial intelligence AI : This is where computers perform tasks that might have traditionally require a human brain.
Smartphones: While Apple and Samsung lead this space, there are lots of secondary players making components, software, apps, and phones.
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Blockchain: While blockchain has gotten a lot of publicity because it's the technology behind Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, it's more than just an alternative payment method. Blockchain is "the digital, distributed, and decentralized ledger tethered to most cryptocurrencies that are responsible for recording all transactions without the need for a financial intermediary.
In other words, it's a transparent and immutable i. In most places, that's not even legal yet, but some driver-assist technology has already come to market, and it's likely that self-driving cabs and even trucks will be in at least limited use reasonably soon.
Computers and software: These are the companies that make the laptops, desktops, and tablets, and the software that runs them. Most of these players are at least partially supported by advertising revenue, though some sell subscriptions and monetize in other ways. The Internet of Things IoT : The IoT is the network of devices connected to each other and the cloud -- the internet investments in the market internet that allows for links between far-flung systems.
It's everything from a smart thermostat that can adjust the temperature in your home to complex medical equipment that can order its own repairs.
Netlfix creates content for its streaming platform, but it also creates and maintains the platform itself.
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A company like Roku NASDAQ: ROKUwhich makes streaming media players, is more of a traditional technology sector stock, but could also be considered a member of the next category as it manufactures devices. Streaming media has been growing as consumers look to cut the cord with cablea trend that has been accelerating. The Cloud: The cloud is internet investments in the market system of computer storage that allows information and services to be accessed by devices from anywhere.
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The cloud allows companies and individuals to use services that are not resident in their devices. Cybersecurity: With data now housed in the cloud, on our devices, and even in the chips in our credit cards, keeping information secure has become a growing industry. Cybersecurity is about making sure information is only accessible to the people who are supposed to see it.
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Intel is a good example of this, as the company makes the chips and processors that make computers work. This segment also includes companies that make memory, screens and other parts that go into technology devices. Amazon is trying to create the ability to use drones for delivery. Image source: Amazon.
Technology is everywhere You can invest in technology without buying a pure technology-sector stock. Starbucks, which most would consider a retail sector or restaurant stock, has been a technology pioneer in the space of mobile payment. The coffee chain established mobile order and pay in its app.
This allows customers to order before they enter a store and pay for items through the app via a connected credit card or a gift card balance. Starbucks also lets customers pay via its app in its regular line -- a staple of many restaurant chains now, but novel when the cafe company introduced it.
It's technology that makes it easier for Starbucks' and now other restaurant chains customers to pay and internet investments in the market loyalty rewards.
That binds the consumer to the brand and gives the company an added marketing channel. These aren't technology companies in the way that, say, Microsoft and Apple are, they are brands known for doing other things like selling coffee that also develop technology -- but they are major players in the space.
In these fast markets when many investors want to trade at the same time and prices change quickly, delays can develop across the board. Executions and confirmations slow down, while reports of prices lag behind actual prices. In these markets, investors can suffer unexpected losses very quickly. Investors trading over the Internet or online, who are used to instant access to their accounts and near instantaneous executions of their trades, especially need to understand how they can protect themselves in fast-moving markets. You can limit your losses in fast-moving markets if you know what you are buying and the risks of your investment; and know how trading changes during fast markets and take additional steps to guard against the typical problems investors face in these markets.
Technology has bled into nearly all areas of life, and a number of companies that at first glance are not specifically technology companies -- think the automakers developing self-driving cars -- are at least partially technology stocks. It's a way to own a market sector without having to rely on specific stocks.
Just like a mutual fundan ETF has an expense ratiomeaning that a percentage internet investments in the market the fund's assets are used to cover management and other costs. It's expressed as the percentage of the fund's assets that are used to cover operating expenses each year.
In a broad sense, lower is better, but you should look at overall returns and not just the expense ratio when considering an ETF.