What’s the most valuable company in the world? Throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s, the answer to that question was - Microsoft – the workhorse of business technology. Over the past decade, the answer to that question has been Apple – the high margin flashy alternative with an artistic vision. However, in the past few weeks, Apple has had some notable stumbles owing to its reliance on international revenue; for the past 5 weeks, Microsoft has reclaimed the top spot.
As long as market forces sway, you have to expect the occasional flip between the top 2 positions, so there will inevitably come a time when the top 2 contenders are essentially equal in terms of value. What is interesting about today’s rotation is that the new market leader isn’t one of the original two; instead, it’s Amazon – the online e-commerce powerhouse – that just took the top spot. It represents a changing of the guard in terms of dominant technology – online networks vs. desktop computing. Although both Microsoft and Apple have embraced online business, the new rival Amazon, since inception, has best represented commerce in the internet age from its dot-com lows, slogging through years of minimal profitability, to industry veteran. Long live the new king.