Apple has ousted Microsoft to become the most valuable technology company on the planet in terms of share valuation, signifying a shift from desktop to portable computing, The New York Times said this week
The iPod maker, which introduced the iPad this year, edged past the Windows and Xbox house with a Wall Street valuation of $222.12 billion; Microsoft stands at $219.18 billion. The two companies are directly behind Exxon Mobil -- the most valuable American company -- which has a valuation of $278.64 billion.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer downplayed the shift, saying Thursday morning, "No technology company on the planet is more profitable than we are … On any given day, the stock market is a voting machine."
While Apple has a higher value, Microsoft currently does generate more sales and profits than Apple. For Microsoft's most recent full fiscal year, the company reported $58.44 billion in revenues and $14.57 billion in profits. Apple saw $42.91 billion in sales and profits of $8.24 billion.
In the games space, Microsoft still has the dominant presence, compared to Apple. Microsoft's internal game studios and publishing operations focus on big packaged releases for its Xbox 360, while Apple's relatively new App Store -- which hosts some 37,000 games for mobile devices -- is all about delivering digital content, and it's been hugely successful for the company.
Most recently for Microsoft's fiscal Q3, the company reported $165 million profit on revenues of $1.67 billion within the division that houses Xbox.
What Apple has done, according to Sun Microsystem's CEO Scott McNealy, is leverage its software expertise and tie that closely to hardware. "Steve [Jobs, Apple CEO] saw way early on, and way before Microsoft, that hardware and software needed to be married into something that did not require effort from the user," he said.
The New York Times noted that Microsoft is still extremely powerful in the tech world, but "Apple has the momentum."