A recent Wall Street Journal reports that Apple Inc. has become the biggest U.S. company in history, surpassing Microsoft Corp. for the top spot based on stock-market value.
At $623.52 billion, Apple now exhibits monetarily its enormous influence on the economy and pop culture. Its stock market value beats Microsoft’s record closing high of $616.34 billion in December of 1999. In addition, Apple blows past its nearest U.S. competitor by over $200 billion—Exxon Mobile, with $405.97 billion, has trailed Apple since last year.
Incredibly, this jump in market value—64% this year and 16% from July 25th alone—comes despite several set-backs in Apple’s recent history: the death of founder Steve Jobs in October, disappointing quarterly sales, and the failure to create a new line of products since 2010’s iPad.
Nonetheless, investors are still excited about Apple, in part because of strong iPhone and iPad sales this year, the expected release of the iPhone 5, and further rumors about the long-heralded Apple TV.
The problem for Apple now is to continue innovating and selling, which experts expect will eventually become more difficult. As Apple increases in sales and bureaucracy, it will become harder for the company to continue raising sales and profit. Like Apple did to Microsoft, some smaller company may come along and supplant Apple. (This challenge is also faced by behemoth companies like Google Inc. and Amazon Inc.)
Investors will now watch Apple to see how long it can maintain its stock value and position as the top technology company in the U.S.