In a nutshell, it's this: As wireless networks have gotten faster and phones have gotten smarter over the past five years, a seismic shift has rocked computing. No longer do many consumers need a PC for email, web surfing, gaming, music management or many other tasks.
Businesses, meanwhile, are spending less on commodity hardware. Instead they're investing in specialized systems and software that can analyze private and public data, detect trends, and give management an edge.
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The big winners in this new environment include Qualcomm, Apple and Samsung Electronics, who have gone from PC underdogs to mobile overlords. In the enterprise, IBM, Teradata, Red Hat and Salesforce.com are among the biggest gainers of the past five years. (Read More: Apple or Samsung: Who's Cooler Now?)
As for the next five years?
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There's always the chance that mobile web or virtualization technology will shake up the mobile landscape the way Web 2.0 disrupted PCs. And in the enterprise? Once someone wins in the data center, maybe we'll see another big trend emerge in computing.
(Read More: How We Got Here, Where We're Going)
—By CNBC's Jon Fortt; Follow him on Twitter: