May 28th, 2010
02:27 AM GMT
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Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the biggest tech company of them all?

To judge from the headlines this week, the fight is over and Apple has won.  “Upstart Apple steals Microsoft’s crown,” says the Times of London. “Apple now bigger than Microsoft,” wrote the BBC. “Apple topples Microsoft’s throne,” crows CNNMoney.

Speaking on a road trip in New Delhi on Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the software giant was still the most profitable tech company in the world.

So who is right?

Apple’s eclipse of Microsoft is based on one measurement of a company’s worth: Its stock price.

By market capitalization, which is based on stock price, Apple for the first time shot ahead of Microsoft with a value of $222 billion on Wednesday, about $3 billion more than Microsoft. (Both are still far behind the world’s most valued company on Wall Street – Exxon Mobil, with a market capitalization of $278.6 billion).

What about profitability? According to Factiva, Microsoft’s net profit margin is nearly 25 percent compared to Apple’s 19 percent (so, score Ballmer).

Who is bigger in terms of number of people it employs? No contest – Microsoft has nearly three times the number of employees with 93,000 (although Dell Inc. beats them both with 94,300).

But who sells the most tech products in the world – Apple? Microsoft?

Neither. By sales, the world’s number one technology company is South Korea’s Samsung Electronics (which took the mantle from HP earlier this year).

So do these 'bragging rights' matter anyway?

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Khyrid

    Well if bragging rights are on who provides a better product, Microsoft wins.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:22 am |
  2. Kevin Gamache


    You can't admit that Apple grab the flag at this point. Your logic and reason is same old story to avoid the fact that Apple is the future based on diversity products. What does MS have beside OS and Office? Zune and XBox is dying unless they can retrieve them into better concept of usage. The facts are showing. Also, PC always stand for Piece of Crap. :)

    May 28, 2010 at 4:09 am |
  3. plabor

    i love Microsoft forever. i hate apple, no why, love is love, hate is hate

    May 28, 2010 at 4:53 am |
  4. Alex

    My heart will forever be on Microsoft the company that revolutionize the way we computing today and tomorrow =) thanks Microsoft we love you
    Im a PC and Microsoft is my life <3

    May 28, 2010 at 5:23 am |
  5. Immanuel George (Nigeria)

    Microsoft been having some couple of problem these days, but i think if they will be on their feet again.. keeping first place al the time is not easy. After all Mac is expensive.

    May 28, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  6. Shahan

    I use Microsoft. You can say it is my choice or choice of others, I am stuck with them. But in terms of stability, I love Apple. I wish more people will come to apple and make it more popular so that Microsoft will not be only choice in majority of the working places around the globe.

    Apple gives us freedom of choice

    Apple or Banana – Sorry Microsoft. ;-)

    May 28, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  7. Horus

    Maybe it's time to read the history first of MS and Apple before talking nonsense plus try Apple first before giving your opinion on it! Then you will find Apple not expensive and you will see that Apple products saves you a lot of time when you use it.

    May 28, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  8. divifilio

    I enjoy both Apple and Microsoft products, Microsoft office is the best tool available for organizations and Apple provides the diversity and aesthetics with constant innovation that people are seeking, I think the big change of Apple surpassing Microsoft is the buying power of young people.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  9. di

    Wow! Just a few years ago people were saying Apple was going bankrupt and Microsoft would be tech king forever. Regardless of your opinions of the companies, one must admit that in recent years Apple has been doing some things right and Microsoft not so much.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  10. David Ndung'u (Kenya)

    Apple might have beaten Microsoft in its stock price which is only one of the many ways you can use to measure a company's worth. The thing is, most of us here (in Kenya and Africa in general) don't see how, because, Microsoft is our way of life (its cheap, simplified, easy to learn every new stuff they come up with). You can get a Microsoft office in like every region in the continent. What about Apple? The only retail store they have is in South Africa and their products are damn expensive to buy and maintain. They also don't have any links with our universities like the way Microsoft does. So even if they beat Ms there won't be anything felt from here.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  11. Ikedichi (Ice) Enyinnaya

    Overall Productivity is the essence and MS has quiet a lot in their kitty of software to make everyone blush but others have a passion for their products too eg. Linux yet much praise for Apple for their tenacity and commitment to product standardisation. We will be watching.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  12. Greg - Bavaria

    OSX is a fine operating system – of that there is no doubt. But I doubt it would be so fine if they had to make that same operating system work with all of the millions of hardware combination possibilities that Windows has to work with...

    When it comes down to it, a Mac is now just a PC internally – except you have to pay a lot more for it. But then, this also ensures 'smugness factor' which is a big trading point for Apple products...

    I own an iPod and used to own an iMac, so I'm not anti-Apple, but at the same time the level of fandom applied to the company can be quite scary at times.

    The iPad is just a bigger iPod Touch. No multitasking = not properly viable for business. It's just a toy.

    Apple's success comes down to the whole 'Church of Apple' mentality. I personally feel that part of this mentality comes from people who deep down realise they've paid far too much for the product and out of embarrassment yell it's virtues as a way of refusing to admit their mistake.

    After all, if they get other people to buy an overpriced PC with a fruit logo on it, then they'll feel less stupid by dilution...

    If OSX was available for purchase to use on a PC – I'd snap up copy in a heartbeat, but with their hardware they're taking the ****.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  13. Andrew


    You have it all wrong, Immanuel, Apple is #1 *despite* the fact that their products are more expensive! Perhaps you don't have quite the same "picture" of the situation from where you are living in Africa.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  14. Andrew


    Microsoft, better products?! Good luck with your wishful thinking. Watch out for viruses, malware and bugs... Microsoft does NOT have the best products, just the most widely used.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  15. dino

    you should take the people in Foxconn as well as the people dead into account when you consider the number of people Apple employs

    May 28, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  16. ANurag

    There is no thing as the biggest tech company bcoz in the age of modern competition no single enterprise can top the ranks.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  17. Ambiepony

    If it is a contest of who provides a better product, I can't figure out how anyone in their right mind could pick Microsoft. I went from one terrible Microsoft computer and OS to the next, loyally buying new ones when my "less expensive" (read: cheap) product continued failing repeatedly, thinking that Macs were all flash and no substance.

    I finally gave up when my laptop (only two years old) died, and switched. Best decision I have ever made, and I will NEVER go back. I even begrudge having to use PCs at work, though my boss has agreed and would switch the office system in a heartbeat if we had the money.

    My Mac is two and a half years old and runs like the day I bought it. I don't really need virus scans, and it consistently works and works well, without odd errors you need a helpline to help you figure out. Most of my friends and family have switched to Macs and everyone agrees they'll never go back.

    Its definitely Apple, all the way. You may not be in to the gadgets like the iPad, but trust me, even the basic laptops are a step above.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  18. Krale

    Stock price reflects the trust investors have in the FUTURE profitability, not necessarily profitability at the moment. Unfortunately MS has nothing going for it, apart from OS and Office, both of which are under serious pressure from Apple and Google. At the same time MS is completely unable to pressure Google in search/advertisement, or Apple in the phone/tablet/itunes/ibooks markets. So does not look good for MS long term.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  19. Emma Yu

    Samsung Electronics!

    May 28, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  20. jose

    Dear microsoft fans.... one question...

    Have you ever used an apple product ?? I think NO :)

    May 28, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  21. Niv

    APPLE would NOT EXIST if Microsoft (Bill Gates) didn't provide it money when Apple was in Crisis.

    So whatever Apple is today, thanks to MS.. Long Live MS

    May 28, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  22. Gary C

    I choose none of the above – all my systems at home and my primary desktop at work all run Linux. (Yes, I do work for a fortune 500 company) I would rather spend the money on faster hardware, and not have to deal with a locked down platform with a very restrictive license that tells me what I can't do with my system. The software is free, and so are the upgrades.

    Oh, and it isn't just mac users that don't worry about viruses.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  23. Holmer Simpson


    May 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  24. Wilson ( The King of Prussia )

    What's with all the positive MS comments. How could one possibly think they make better products than Apple. Sure, I can see some issues people have with Apple recently, but Window?, Zune?—you have to be joking, or you are Paul Thornott.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  25. TOSIN

    MICROSOFT has paid its DUES in the technological sector of the World's economy. MICROSOFT and APPLE are 2 parallel lines. Microsoft revolutionized technology and I believe that they set a platform for other technology/ I.T companies to grow.
    If there is no ORIGINAL there will be no FAKE. Other technology 'giants' uses MICROSOFT's faults or errors to develop theirs.

    Talk of simplicity and user friendliness-its Microsoft
    If it's not microsoft,it can NEVER be like microsoft.....

    May 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  26. Satish Singhal

    Microsoft is most profitable because MS office is the king in business environment. However, when it comes to next generation software engineering, the mobile world has all the action. Apple has planted itself firmly in this space with terrifying dominance. Because of Apple's genius the pioneer MP# player company Rio is already out of business, Nokia has single digit market share in US, and Ipad is firmly planted in the tablet space. All the while Microsoft was focusing on taking on Google. However, it is Apple that has pulled rug from under their feet. Microsoft is badly struggling in mobile device space. They have to re-invent itself to get back in the game. It is not impossible, but perhaps improbable.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  27. Anthony

    microsofts produts are a lot more user frendly tham mac especially software. I admit zunes arent better than ipods but id rather use an android phone with isyncr app on it for syncing itunes on an android OS phone for an mp3 player than the two. Xbox RULES period. macs are expensive yet less prone to viruses yet less games and less user friendly, i suggest an hp (desktop) and toshiba or asus (laptop) and norton antivirus software.Mac doesnt even have there own office programs so microsoft made it for them (microsoft office mac). The iphone? so overrated, yes its cool, but AT&T sucks the iphone should be on sprint or at least verizon also id rather use an android OS Phone for an mp3 player (FIY microsoft recently signed a deal with android I dont know what for though)

    May 29, 2010 at 4:20 am |
  28. carmo

    apple is a vegtable . . .

    May 29, 2010 at 5:53 am |
  29. brainwolf

    No matter how big is microsoft but it always lack behind in introducing Technology when it comes innovation...Apple ve always been the leader in introducing technology.... my brothers just try Macbook and check its graphics and innovation. I ve seen hollywood movies showing MacBook Pro in most most of its movies.... I am loving Apple.... there is no competitor to apple not to a near distance..... Microsoft is always copying apple or atleast bringing something that is already been produced by Apple ages ago.....

    Apple you rockZZZ!

    May 29, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  30. milhomem

    The first "name: trade mark.i know it"was MICROSOFT. But now i think APPLE win the race,couse new tecnology and markett.!We can't forget Mr Bill Gate!

    May 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  31. Miichael

    However saying to that "win by the Apple" was short term and just name sake only. ( Because much selling of iPads & iPhones at present )
    But I thought "Microsoft " will be forever due to its best aims & aids.

    June 1, 2010 at 3:43 am |
  32. Benjamin Vanbrocklin

    I think that we should look at the integrity of a company not so much as who has more money or market share or profitability. Many people see Microsoft as this monster that has cut the heads off of its competition and has only been successful because of this. Let’s face it the only reason Microsoft is in the position it is in is because a lot of hard work by many determined people and a product which is obtainable by the masses, as we can all agree sex appeal should not be used in the same sentence as Bill Gates. On the other hand Apple has sex appeal, there products are sexy and more expensive than Microsoft, which means if you use their products you are sexy and feel a bit high class than the rest. This is what I mean about integrity, check what Gates will do with the Billions of dollars that he made from Microsoft and then try and find out where the profits made from Apple products will end up (no idea) maybe just to stock investors or something like that. In any case I am happy that that one of the world’s richest man will do good with the profits that he made from one of the world’s most incredible and down to earth companies, Microsoft.

    June 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  33. cl

    yay samsung!

    June 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  34. rupak

    it's total BS...u can't even compare these 2 companies..people working in an enterprise environment will know that Apple makes nothing for business...well, not exactly true – they *DO* make products, just that n one uses them. it's either MS, Linux, Solaris or other flavors (HP-UX , AIX) which runs the corporates. even if apple was dead, it would make no difference to business.. do u people imagine what will happen if your MS Exchange or ur SQL is down? has anyone thought about that ?? hell, even Oracle is a more important organization in terms of amount of business they support.. apple is only for those who are willing to spend premium in fancy stuffs. guess what, apple has ZERO visibility in developing economies. they r focused in only develped nations. how many iphones or i-whatevers hav been sold in china-india?? absolute no presence. if u don't play in these 2 countries u will be a dead meat in next 15 years. like it or not, US is stagnant economy. u want to play in future, start looking at the BRIC..thats whr the potential lies, and exactly the place where apple don't have a pie!!!

    June 8, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  35. teamstrikers

    Bill Gates is the single biggest charitable donator in the history of mankind. By a huge margin. Steve Jobs is a self-absorbed jerk of a person. I know where my money goes.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  36. Marius

    who’s the biggest tech company in Romania? Microsoft. But the webdesigners and editors, the managers too use an apple computer.....
    Sample of work made on such Apple here

    June 11, 2010 at 5:45 am |
  37. Max

    Apple sells crappy hardware people has to stick to. Microsoft has not-so-crappy software, but people has freedom of hardware choice.
    As people (like me) realize that spending on Apple products is plain stupid; Google, Linux, Android and lots of FREEDOM platforms will win at the end.

    Apple HAS ACTUALLY CONVINCED PEOPLE that they invented the smart phone!

    CNN and other media outlets are in the Apple lying scam as well.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  38. Max

    "Your comment is awaiting moderation."

    CENSORSHIP is a way to try to hide the truth. Let people report abusive content instead of you trying to hide what people really think!

    CNN, you part of a propaganda machine!

    June 12, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  39. HansBrinker

    I use to have hypertension due to my work.
    My doctor told me, "Well, you know what they say, an Apple a day keeps the doctor away... So.
    He was right.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  40. icons set

    Delirium what that

    November 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

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