Apple's numbers have long been staggering; the way this company has grown; the way it continues to beat the Street; the way new products fly off shelves; the way Apple generates profits.
But nothing is more staggering than Apple's market cap, at least as it compares to everyone else's market cap, particularly Google's.
Both companies' overall value certainly has been higher, but as of yesterday, Apple's eclipsed Google's for the first time as Silicon Valley's most valuable company. Apple: $158.8 billion. Google: $157.23 billion.
The milestone gives investors a chance to pause and reflect on two companies that have generated the lion's share of media coverage and consumer and investor attention. Some might be surprised that Apple has ascended to the top spot, but look at the companies a little deeper and it strikes me as odd that it took this long to happen. In fact, Google debuted in 2004 when the company went public with a higher market cap than Apple even though the company's iPod momentum was beginning to kick in in a big way.
Which is one of the key differences between these two. Sure, Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, sits on Apple's board. And Al Gore, special assistant to Google's executive team, sits on Apple's board. There is some overlap. But only in a cursory way.
The cultures are far different and that's important from an innovation-pipeline standpoint. I have friends and sources at both, and some of each long to work at the other. But by and large, they both have a sense of wanting to change the world and believe each place provides the best opportunity to do so.
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That's fine, but from an investors' standpoint, Apple is the hands down better place to park money. Simple economics: Apple has several, key, successful, established revenue streams and all continue to perform admirably: Mac sales surpassing 2 million units a quarter; iPod sales continuing to surge and surprise the Street; Piper Jaffray says Apple is selling 95 iPhones a day at each of its 188 Apple stores, and the deal with Best Buy will expand distribution points by 50 percent. ITunes is a blockbuster; the new App Store did $30 million in software downloads its first month and Steve Jobs himself says it could be Apple's next billion-dollar business.
Google? It's got search advertising. No slouch, sure. It's a hot market and will continue to be, even though growth might be ever-so-slightly slowing. Where else will Google make its new money? No one knows for sure. Android and mobile phones? Maybe. But competition is stiff and the market is still waiting.
Google still shows enormous promise, but Apple is already delivering on its promise, seeding the future with new products, new opportunities, and new profits. Ironic since Google positions itself as the ultimate innovator and the coolest company in tech.
Maybe it's about creating something versus aggregating bits and bites in a new way to make money. More likely it's about financial diversity. Apple's got it; Google's still trying. Hoping. To me, Apple's market cap beating Google's is a no-brainer.
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