Apple passed Microsoft in the market capitalisation stakes in May this year, and now looks set to pip Exxon, the current number one. Even if Apple doesn't make it to the number one spot (last week Exxon's valuation was $331bn to Apple's $274bn, so it might yet take a few sales more), Wall Street is apparently fairly sure it will happen soon.
It's quite phenomenal news considering that when Steve Jobs took up the Apple mantle just 12 year ago the company was valued at a measly $2bn (ahem - we use the term 'measly' with a slight dash of irony). Despite Jobs being an obvious tech wunderkind - he launched the world's first colour-screen computer in 1977 and generated $3m sales from it in its first year - he's rumoured to be a ferocious and unpredictable leader. He was ousted from Apple, the company he built, in 1985. It was only after Apple reported a quarterly loss of $708m in 1997 he was brought back in (in between times he was busy building up the wonderful Pixar, which he sold on to Disney).
Whatever his ego and management style, there's no escaping the fact Steve Jobs understands consumer technology. The iPod, the iPhone and the iPad - all have been game-changing pieces of technology super-adopted across the world. And Jobs' grasp of business strategy is mind-blowing too: the key to the iPod success was arguably Apple's iTunes, which allowed the seamless transition from purchasing music to owning and listening to it. The all-in-one solution that all rivals, Sony and Microsoft included, had foolishly missed or underestimated the importance of.
Apple knows how to make life easy for consumers. And if profits and market value continue to mushroom the way they have been in recent years, we can expect even more product innovation that will keep Apple at or next to that number one spot.
As a side note, the Guardian today points out the interesting significance of the possible change in the stock market tomorrow: "If Apple does surpass Exxon, it would mark a changing of the guard in the Standard & Poor's 500, where the top spot has been shared by companies including General Electric, General Motors, AT&T (before it was broken up in a monopoly investigation), and - 20 years ago - by IBM, which was also hit by antitrust investigations.
"With suggestions that the world is approaching 'peak oil' as supplies begin to dwindle and increasing concern over the role that fossil fuels play in climate change, Exxon looks set to be replaced by perhaps the most potent symbol of the digital age."
Digital entrepreneurs, ftw.