Apple ripens to biggest company in the world as shares hit $500

With a market cap of $468m, Apple is now the largest company on earth. Meanwhile, Google's catching up...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Jul 2012
What’s the biggest public company in the world? An oil company? A car manufacturer, perhaps? Get with it – they were yesterday’s industries. These days, it’s Apple, creator of shiny gadgets, which now has a market cap of $468bn (£297bn) after shares hit a whopping $500 for the first time yesterday. Prices have been on an upward trajectory since the end of January, when the company’s first-quarter figures showed it had made revenues of $46.3bn, having sold 37 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads and 5.2m Mac computers.

Apple’s shares have risen 44% since the end of April last year (when the S&P500 closed at 1,393.61 points, its highest point since the beginning of the downturn). According to figures by Barclays Capital, that means Apple now makes up 1.9% of the MSCI World stock market index, and 3.8% of the value of the S&P 500. In fact, if Apple’s earnings were discounted, average growth among companies in the S&P would fall from 7% to just 2.9%. Which makes it blindingly obvious that even without the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple continues on its path to world domination. Although it’s worth pointing out that its reputation is at stake now it’s opened up its Chinese factories (run by Foxconn) to a team of inspectors.  
Meanwhile, in humbler corners of the digital sphere, regulators in the US have given the go-ahead to Google to bid for Motorola Mobility, the part of the company which makes phones and tablet computers. Google has thus put in a $12.5bn (£7.9bn) bid for the company.

This has been on the cards for a while: you might remember Larry Page’s nausea-inducing assertion in August that he looked forward to ‘welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers’. Vom. What’s even more likely to trigger the gag reflex in rivals is the fact that Motorola Mobility has more than 17,000 patents. It’ll be of particular concern to Samsung, which has gone head-to-head with both Google and Apple over various IP issues.

It if that’s the case, it won’t be pretty: while Google says access to the patents will ‘supercharge’ Android, its mobile operating system, it’s also likely that it will take advantage of the legal system to prevent rivals from using similar technology, thus dramatically slowing down their development process. Well – as we said last time: all’s fair in love and smartphones…

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