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The top global technology brand for 2007 is ...

The top global technology brand for 2007 is either Google or Microsoft, depending on which market research report you believe. Google's rapid appearance as a leading global brand is telling, in any case.

The top global technology brand for 2007 is (drum roll, please) ... um, I'm not sure. One market research firm says Google, the other says Microsoft. This is embarrassing.

How about this: you're the tie-breaker. You're all buyers of technology products and services; which do you think is the better brand? Which one commands your loyalty and recurring business? I hear so much admiration for Google and so much vitriol toward Microsoft, it's hard to believe there's even a question here. But still, the question remains. Which one is it going to be?

Bragging rights aside, you can learn a lot from these reports. Trends are important to understand. Trends are the leading edge of change. Brand trends point to changes in consumer and corporate buying behavior.

Although the research firms had completely different criteria and methods, eight companies--Cisco Systems, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle--made the top 10 on both lists. Samsung Electronics and Sony rounded out Interbrand's top ten, while Apple and SAP adorned Millward Brown's.

Both reports cited Google and Apple as tech firms gaining the most ground. The reasons for that should be obvious to all.

Intel and Dell, on the other hand, were both seen heading in the wrong direction. Dell's decline reflects market-share losses to rivals HP and Apple, as well as a well-publicized accounting scandal and abrupt management change. As for Intel, we've definitely seen chinks in the chip giant's once-impenetrable competitive armor. Archrival AMD has gained market-share and Intel's Viiv entertainment PC brand failed to excite consumers.

Also notable was a slight reversal of Sony's multiyear brand plunge, although both reports show Samsung is now ahead of its Japanese rival.

The most revealing change, however, is all about Google. Whether you believe the Internet search advertising giant belongs in the No. 1 spot or not, just a few short years ago that name wasn't on anyone's list, long or short.

The technology world changes fast. When we see obvious signs that rapid change is afoot, it's a good idea to pay attention. I don't think any of us needed a report to tell us about this one. But it does make you wonder what name we might see in the 2010 brand report.