Apple Is Not The Most Valuable Company In The History Of The World

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Apple is not the most valuable company in the history of the world. It’s not even Microsoft, which was reported to have been toppled by Apple today.

It’s IBM by a long shot.

Apple’s $661 billion market share does not account for inflation.  With inflation in account, IBM remains the historic winner with a 1967 value of $1.3 trillion.  

The Columbia Journalism Review put this into perspective today by calling out the press for their over zealousness in hoping to tell a  story about Apple and its victory.

Correction: The CJR’s IBM information is incorrect. Its 1967 market cap in today’s dollars is $192.3 billion. Microsoft is still number one when you account for inflation. Its market cap, as also stated by the Columbia Journalism Review “was actually about $856 billion in constant dollars, $235 billion more than Apple’s current market cap.”

Nonetheless, Apple’s run has been incredible. But it has not been enough to take the crown as the most valuable company in the history of the world.

I wonder how Steve Jobs would feel if he was being given a handicap. For that’s what this amounts to if you give Apple the prize. Accounting for inflation, $1 in 1967 1999 is worth $6.85 $1.38 today. In that year of systems and mainframes, IBM had a market capitalization of $192.3 billion. Don’t account for inflation and sure Apple is the winner.  But I don’t think Jobs would see much pleasure in winning by such means. I’d instead expect he’d want to win the prize based upon the performance of the company and beat the rest without an asterisk next to the record.

Apple could become the most valuable company in the world if it keeps up its growth. In February, The New York Times calculated that at a market capitalization of $500 billion, Apple’s would have a value of more than $3 trillion by 2020. As the Times points out, that is bigger than the 2011 gross domestic product of France or Brazil.

Much of the media attention today was placed on Apple as the winner and Microsoft as the loser. But the reality is something different.