For the first time since the late 1980s, Apple has, this week, surpassed Microsoft in terms of it's total value, making it the largest technology company in the world. The choppy trading which has taken place recently, has resulted in fluctuating share prices and on Wednesday, the total value of Apple reached $222bn (£154bn), whilst Microsoft's valuation came in at $219bn.
Is this the end of Microsoft?
Looking at the bigger picture, it's clear that Microsoft remains more profitable than Apple and also has a substantially healthier (annual) net profit, but the shift in overall value does represent a significant achievement for the California based company, which nearly went out of business in the '90s.
The iPod is key to Apple's success
The success of Apple is largely down to it's ability to create ground-breaking peripheral products - rather than simply focusing on the desktop computer market - which Microsoft still dominates (its operating system is installed on around 90% of all personal computers across the world). In 2001, Apple unveiled it's first iPod, and almost 10 years later, the iPod is still in production and has certainly pushed the limits in terms of what a portable music device is capable of.
One could argue that the iPod has led to the creation of the iPhone, which then led to the iPad - a device which is expected to do very well in the UK, after great success in the US. Whilst it is possible to use each of these products in conjunction with a Microsoft-based personal computer, more and more people are making the switch from Microsoft to Apple as a result of their 'portal device experiences'. That said, Apple really does owe an awful lot to the iPod.