Apple overtakes Microsoft to reclaim title of world’s most valuable company

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Key notes

  • In August 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a $1 trillion market cap.

In a dramatic turn of events, Apple has surged to overtake Microsoft as the most valuable company in the world. Apple’s market capitalization now stands at $3.25 trillion, toppling Microsoft’s $3.24 trillion valuation. This marks the first time Apple has held the top spot in five months.

So, what’s driving this reversal of fortunes? It’s all about AI. At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this week, the company unveiled a range of new AI features and enhancements across its various platforms and devices.

One of the biggest announcements was about Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. In the fall, Siri will be able to field requests to send messages, check emails and manage your calendar, all while working with third-party apps. Apple also announced new AI-powered features in the Photos app, on-device speech recognition for third-party developers and more.

The news was enough to send Apple’s share price soaring to new heights. The stock closed at a record $211.75 on Wednesday, up over 2% and on the heels of a 3% gain on Tuesday.

Shares of Microsoft, meanwhile, ticked up a modest 0.3% today.

Apple’s lead in the AI space is far from definitive. The company’s digital assistant is widely considered to be behind the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa in capabilities, and Apple’s privacy-focused approach to AI — which involves processing more user data on-device and less in the cloud — arguably puts it at a disadvantage.

But perception is often more important than reality, and it seems like investors are buying into Apple’s AI vision. Despite the fact that Apple’s AI efforts are a work in progress, the company has managed to capture the imagination of money managers in a way it hasn’t in a while.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Apple has briefly claimed the title of the world’s most valuable company. In August 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a $1 trillion market cap (a valuation it would only hold onto for a few months), and it would go on to trade places with Microsoft multiple times over the next several years.

So how long will Apple’s time at the top last this time around? It’s tough to say. The company’s stock is always subject to rapid swings, and the same goes for the broader market.

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