Apple's Market Cap Passes $210 Billion, Now Within $50 Billion Of You-Know-Who

With the iPad launching on Saturday in the U.S., Apple’s stock price continues to rise. Today, shares closed at $232.39, another all time high. Notably, this push Apple’s market cap past $210 billion for the first time, as it’s now as $210.73 billion. But even more notably is that Apple is now under $50 billion away from its chief rival, Microsoft.

Microsoft ended the day down slightly, to close at $29.60. This pushed Microsoft’s market cap to $259.61 billion. As I wrote, it’s now a question of when Apple will pass Microsoft in value, not if.

Apple’s initial stock of iPads is believed to be sold out already leading up to Saturday. Orders made today on Apple’s website won’t be delivered until April 12, for example. Estimates have pre-order numbers as high as 240,000. And that doesn’t include the unit being sold at Best Buys across the country on launch day, as was just announced. All-told, it should be another blockbuster weekend for Apple, and its stock price come Monday could reflect that.

But wait, there’s more.

Remember, that this initial launch of the iPad is U.S.-only and only includes the WiFi version of the device. At the end of April, Apple will make the device available in several other big markets around the world, and it will launch the 3G version of its device in the U.S. with AT&T.

That will push us into May where Apple could have more tricks up its sleeve. New MacBooks and Mac Pros have been rumored for a while now with new Intel chips. Apple could simply be waiting for the iPad hoopla to die down before unveiling those.

And then there’s the ace.

While the dates for Apple’s WWDC event haven’t be publicized yet, you can expect that to take place in June — likely the end of June. There, Apple will undoubtedly unveil yet another new version of the iPhone. What’s interesting is that it hasn’t yet held an event to show off a new SDK for a new iPhone OS as it usually does before the WWDC hardware-unveiling. The iPad will run iPhone OS 3.2, but 4.0 is definitely said to be in the works. It seems unlikely at this point that Apple would hold an SDK event in May because that would give developers only a few weeks to play with it before a launch alongside the new hardware. So it’s possible the new SDK will be shown off later, to be released later this year.

Regardless, this is shaping up to be another blockbuster summer for Apple. And when it’s all over, that $50 billion gap may be much closer than Microsoft would like.

Update: And for more on that new Summer iPhone — and what could be a Verizon iPhone in the Fall…