Apple has faltered in recent weeks

The last time Microsoft was the world’s most valuable company, in 1998, Bill Clinton had yet to be impeached, Boris Yeltsin was still president of Russia, and Google was less than a month old. Yesterday, the company that dominated the PC era of computing was on the cusp of reclaiming that title, drawing virtually even with its old rival Apple. At one point less than $1 billion separated the two companies, with Apple still slightly ahead at $824 billion. Apple has been in the top spot for seven years but has faltered in recent weeks on worries the smartphone market has run out of growth… Given the stock market’s recent mood swings, a change in leadership seems likely. Apple has lost 25 per cent of its market value from the peak at the start of October, or $270 billion. By contrast Microsoft’s growth last year was the strongest in a decade and its shares have held up better than most amid the recent tech rout, slipping only 9 per cent from their peak… As often in tech, the changing fortunes point to a deeper shift. It took the arrival of the smartphone to weaken Microsoft’s PC dominance. Now the smartphone market is mature, and the focus of growth has moved to the cloud.

Richard Waters