The Big Apple

When the history of tech in the late noughties and early teens is written, it may simply be remembered as the Age of Apple. The California tech company was already on a roll when it released the iPhone in 2007, but since then it's been growing faster than a riot on a Monday night in London. (Oooh, topical! -Ed.)

Last year, it overtook Microsoft to become the world's most valuable technology company, measured by market capitalisation - the total value of all its shares. That was impressive. But now it's gone one better, surpassing oilco ExxonMobil to become the world's most valuable company, period - albeit briefly.

It actually happened on Tuesday. The total value of Apple's shares on the tech-focused stock exchange NASDAQ hit $341.5 billion. (That's a lot.) At the same time, the shares of ExxonMobil - listed on the more traditional New York Stock Exchange - fell to $341.4 billion. What a difference a hundred million dollars makes (duh) - Apple, a company with less than a hundred products on sale at any given time, was suddenly the biggest company in the world - bigger than giant conglomerates such as GE.

The thing is, though: it couldn't last. On Thursday, Exxon's stocks rallied, boosted by higher than average oil prices, placing it back on top. But with the iPhone 5 on the way, it may only be a matter of time before Apple returns to the top spot - and stays there.

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