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Apple is the most valuable tech company; but what does this mean?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 3rd June 2010

Last week, Apple pipped Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable technology company. It’s a move that has been reported far and wide by the tech community, but what’s the secret behind the company’s success and what does it mean for the industry?

It’s all about mobile

The Apple success story can be summed up by one word: mobile. It was the company that saw the potential of mobile music in the iPod. It was the company that took mobile phones to the next level and realised their potential with the iPhone. It made laptops into trendy, must have gadgets with the Macbook and Macbook Air. And it will possibly usher in yet another new genre of gadget with the iPad.

Sure, Apple’s obsession with great design, great user interfaces and user experience is also a key component of its success to date, but mobile lies at the heart of it all.

And mobile is an area where Microsoft has really been left behind. Will it ever catch up? Unlikely.

Noticing a trend

Mobile was the trend that Apple picked up on and used to its advantage. Spotting and anticipating a trend that is in sync with consumer behaviour has been vital for the business.

Spotting the next trend will be vital for the company that hopes to be the success story of the next decade. And it’s hard to say what this will be. Google is banking on open standards (think Android and Chrome) and here it really comes up against Apple’s more ‘closed’ environment. Facebook and Google are both gambling on rewiring the social web and maybe that will pay dividends.

It’s all cyclical; who’s next?

If you’d have told someone 10 years ago that Apple would be more valuable than Microsoft, they wouldn’t have believed you. It just goes to show how things change. Google and Facebook will surely be thinking they could be the next companies to wear this particular crown. Or will it be a company that, as Apple was 10 years ago, are off our radar at the moment?

Can Apple demonstrate that it can still be disruptive in the industry or is it content to rest on its laurels?

Is it all over already?

Many – me included – are fascinated to see what the new iPhone announced on Monday will feature. The iPhone 3G was the device that made people – me included – run out and buy. Those people – me included – are now at the end of their contracts and will likely be thinking very carefully about their next mobile purchase. Can Apple do it again and raise the bar or will the Android steamroller roll on?

Whilst Apple will always have a strong share of the mobile market, the company has already been matched and, in some areas, surpassed by Google and Android. The rise of HTML5 web apps will render the app store pointless. Google is already making strides here with the Chrome Web App store – it’s surely the future.

But it would be too soon to write Apple off. The iPad is a sign of its continued innovation, though despite the 2m sold so far, it will take some time to see whether this really is a game changing device.

Apple really is the tech company of the decade, but will it survive? We’ll just have to wait and see…

picture credit

Danny Whatmough