More: How stuff works
The Canadian technology landscape is very uneven terrain. You're liable to get a nosebleed traversing the steep slopes between the top ($19 billion in sales at BCE) and the bottom ($16 million at Xenos) of even the 100 largest companies. As the following fold-out pages of Canadian Business's annual Tech 100 ranking and analysis show, technology is a tough business to be in at the halfway point of the 21st century's first decade. Although most companies have regrouped after the earthquakes of five years ago, reliable growth can be hard to come by. No wonder so many have lost their bearings.
The borders of this landscape are not very well defined, either. It's an imperfect exercise determining what qualifies as a bona fide tech company. (Considering that our “How stuff works” feature on page 29 highlights technology created by a seafood company and a water-park amusement ride, perhaps that shouldn't come as a surprise.) One case in point, however, is the cable companies. They normally are clumped by Bay Street investment types into an industry classification known as Broadcast and Media. But most cablecos now offer Internet service and many are rolling out consumer IP telephony services, just like traditional phone companies Bell, Telus and others. Rogers Communications (owner of Canadian Business) even owns a mobile phone network. Are they media barons or high-tech empires? When it comes to technology in Canada, though, it's hard to dispute their influence.
So this year, they're back in. Another change is that in addition to our usual practice of ranking the top publicly traded technology companies by their fiscal 2004 sales and profit (as a percentage of sales), we've grouped them into broad categories, including Communication Services. By this measure, BCE Inc. is still the largest peak in the land. But the real excitement is all the scrabbling among the hills and valleys below.