Apple passes MS to become tech's top dog

Robert Clark
27 May 2010

A sign of the times. The passing of an era. Changing of the guard. A just reward.

Whatever the sentiment, Apple’s ascension to the top of the tech heap is certainly a marker.

The Silicon Valley firm that nearly closed its doors in 1997 Wednesday overtook Microsoft to become the world’s biggest technology company.

Apple’s market cap is now $222.1 billion, compared with Microsoft’s $219.2 billion, according to Yahoo Finance. Apple shares on Nasdaq closed down $1.11 at $244.11, while Microsoft's stock was down $1.06 to $25.01.

The two companies are a study in contrasts. And I don’t just mean Bill and Steve, who both co-founded their respective companies in the early ‘80s and have been frenemies ever since.

Microsoft made its pile out of software in an era when the PC was primarily for desk-bound office work. In this decade Apple has churned out one hardware hit after another - the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone with the iPad – many assume – soon to follow.

The milestone underlines what experts have been noting for some years – that consumers, not businesses, are driving the IT and internet business.

As the New York Times puts it, it also confirms that “the click-clack of the keyboard has ceded ground to the swipe of a finger across a smartphone’s touch screen.”

It is not without its ironies. Microsoft rescued Apple from its near-death experience with a $150 million investment. In the period since, the software giant has spent much of its time fending off anti-trust suits from US and European regulators.

Now, with US feds eyeing its dominance of online music, it is Apple’s behavior that is coming under scrutiny.

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