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Apple's market cap surpasses Microsoft in its 1990s hey-day

CNN Money carried an interesting story on Monday entitled "Apple is now the most valuable company of all time".  Similar headlines soon abounded.

Indeed Apple, Inc. (AAPL), despite a "bad" quarter which would be cause for celebration for just about anyone else, has soared in value over the last decade with the success of the iPod, then the iPhone, and most recently the iPad.  From 2000 to present, shares increased from a market cap of $8B USD to $623B USD.  For comparison's sake gold -- typically consider a massive commodities success story -- has only ballooned from $238 USD per oz. to $1640 USD per oz. at last count.

So when Apple's soaring stock set a market capitalization record of $623B USD (at $665.15 USD/share) -- more than the $618.9B USD Microsoft was worth (according to investors) in Dec. 30 at the height of so-called "dot com bubble".

But for all the streamers and confetti, the claim that Apple is the "most valuable of all time/in all of history" isn’t accurate.  Value is based on the worth of the currency at the time.

Siri
"Siri, who is the most valuable company in all of history?" Ding ding.. "In today's dollars Microsoft in 1999 would be." [Image Source: AP Photo]

In 2010 dollars, Microsoft's $618B USD valuation would be over $820B USD.  While inflation data is still being finalized for last year, it would likely be somewhere in the ballpark of $850B USD in today's money (The Columbia Journalism Review says $856B USD in today's money, although it admits to goofing by saying that International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) in 1967 was the most valuable, failing to realize that the data it was working off of was already adjusted).  

The headlines are particularly troubling, given that even a simple Wikipedia search would have revealed the truth (Wikipedia pegs Microsoft's peak value at $846B USD in today's money).

In other words, Apple still has to grow by another third in order to truly become the most valuable of all time.

Still, it is fair to lavish Apple with some praise.  The company was most profitable tech firm for 2011 and third in total profits.  For 2012 Apple is expected to be the most profitable American firm.

Those profits could soar even higher if Apple succeeds in its court bid to ban rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) devices from the American market -- the world's most lucrative and second largest smartphone market.

But Apple has a long hard road ahead to become truly the biggest company in history.  For now, it is merely in a small crowd of historic elites.

Sources: CNN Money, CJR



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Apple Bubble
By NellyFromMA on 8/21/2012 4:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
I feel like Apple is a bubble. They got rich primarily off MP3 players and then took a profitable dip into the mobile arena. They have brand recognition that more often than not works for them but I mean that's not all that great.

They haven't actually innovated anything in the software realm that I can think of offhand. They're only notable success is in the MP3 and Mobile arena.

Their primary source of profits isn't even from innovation: its from absolute domination of the supply chain. Economic win in that dept no doubt but between that and brand recognition, one has to wonder when that bubble bursts?




"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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