Wednesday 10 August 2011

Apple is world’s most valuable firm

- Steve Jobs is the man-

Recent uncertainty in the stock market yesterday helped Apple to overtake Exxon Mobil to become the world’s most valuable company. However, the innovative work of Steve Jobs should not go unnoticed.

Apple briefly pipped Exxon on 9 August 2011 when the Company’s share price dipped due to a fall in the price of crude oil; a direct result of the market’s concern over The United States’s debt crisis and the increasing threat of a double dip. The USA is the world’s biggest consumer of crude oil and as a result, Exxon Mobil’s share price has seen a 20pc drop since reaching a year high of $87.98 in April 2011. On the other hand, Apple is a blossoming evergreen, with the Company’s share price having almost quadrupled in the last four years. 

City workers, journalists and consumers are questioning how Apple is managing to expand at a time when other companies and even sovereign states are struggling to stay afloat. Could the simple answer be the work and vision of Apple CEO, Steve Jobs…?

The California based tech company is enjoying rapid expansion, with every results announcement continuing to boast record growth upon record growth. Furthermore, analysts do not expect this growth curve to plateau, as most still hold buy recommendations on Apple, despite the prospect of the deepening slowdown in the world economy. In fact the only time Apple’s share price did begin to level-out was in January 2011, when reports in the press stated Jobs had been taken ill again; arguably a marked testament to the markets’ faith in their CEO.

The argument that technology will continue to develop and demand will never dwindle is true, but Apple has to be acknowledged for its innovative products – the recognition of which should go to Steve Jobs. When Jobs was reinstated at Apple in 1997, he inherited a company worth $2billion. Apple was trailing behind Dell and the world of electronics was wholly dominated by Microsoft. Today the company is worth $341.5bn.

As the Internet became more widely accessible, Job’s first priority was to rebrand Apple. The company reacted and introduced the pretty coloured iMac computers. Over the years, this evolution has continued, with the iMac leading to the iPod, then to the iPhone and most recently, to the iPad. In just 14 years Steve Jobs has changed consumer computing, the entire music industry, mobile communications and brought tablet devices to the market (a concept one might have thought belonged in an H G Wells novel not too long ago).

The upcoming autumn launch of iCloud is yet another example of the company and Steve Jobs’s innovation. Jobs spotted that the proliferation of hand held wireless devices has led to businessmen and consumers being ‘online’ all the time, and as a result, there is increased demand to access and backup data through cloud based services. iCloud will actually overservice these consumer needs; further differentiating Apple from competitors such as Microsoft and Dell, and in turn, increasingly encroaching upon Google’s territory.

As Dominc Rushe in the Guardian comments: “One of Jobs’s early goals was to surpass Dell”. Apple have done just that. In 2006 their market capitalisation was $72.13bn vs Dell’s $71.97, and by May 2010 Apple’s market cap was $3bn greater than Microsoft’s.  Now the technology giant’s market cap is rivalling oil companies. [1]

The soon to be launched iCloud service and the eagerly anticipated iPhone 5 will continue Apple’s dominance of consumer electronics under Jobs, with stores worldwide having flocks of dedicated followers queuing up overnight eager to get their hands on the latest Apple product.

When Steve Jobs decides to retire, the board at Apple has some task on their hands to replace him. It will not be easy.

Jamie Hooper

[1] Pg 24 Guardian 10 August 2011

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  1. A very interesting piece and well deserved recognition for Jobs. As Benjamin Franklin once said; "A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges". Apple may have had their cake and eaten it once Jobs leaves.

  2. Some interesting points made here. I do think these things are cyclical though and sooner or later it will be someone else's turn.

  3. A provocative piece which makes one ponder on the importance of succession planning and an over-relaicne on star people. Two further examples would be Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson and Rupert Murdoch's reign at News Corporation. Perhaps their companies rely on their stars too much. Apple may well do as the drop in its share price on Steve Jobs' illness would attest. Then again perhaps Jobs successor will be able to conjure the spirit of Sir Isaac Newton who noted: "If I have seen further than others, it is because I have been standing on the shoulders of giants." Wise words, Sir Isaac.

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