Apple overtakes Microsoft in market cap – Steve Ballmer doesn’t care

May 27, 2010

Apple has overtaken Microsoft in terms of market cap, and is now the second highest valued U.S. company behind Exxon. But Steve Ballmer doesn’t care so long as people are still buying PCs with Windows installed on them.

Yesterday saw the unthinkable happen. Microsoft has been a giant tech company for decades, whereas Apple has risen, fallen, and then risen again, but has never been able to compete with Microsoft. Until now, at least in terms of market value.

Apple’s fortunes started to turn around when Steve Jobs took over as CEO in 1997 and set about changing the company into a new entity. The designs changed, the prices went up, and the iPod, iPhone, Mac, Macbook, and iPad have all been proved to be hugely popular products.

But the market value of the two companies was still a long way apart until around 2005, when Microsoft’s drop coincided with Apple’s rise. And yesterday saw Apple overtake Microsoft at the close of business, with Microsoft ending the day with a market cap of $219.18, and Apple slightly ahead on $222.12 billion.

The Apple fanboys are now in ecstasy. But Microsoft appears to be taking it all in its stride, with Steve Ballmer commenting on the news by telling AFP:

It is a long game. We have good competitors but we too are very good competitors. I will make more profit and certainly there is no technology company on the planet that is as profitable as we are.

Let’s see what happens as I am still pleased that 94 times out of a 100 somebody picks a Windows PC.

Is this misplaced confidence? It’s hard to tell at this stage. There’s no doubting that Microsoft is still a highly profitable company, and the Windows operating system continues to be by far the most popular in the world.

However, Microsoft’s other business interests aren’t going so well. And there’s also the definite shift to mobile devices — smartphones, PMPs, and especially tablets — that could end Microsoft’s hold on the market. Especially as the company canned Courier, and saw Hewlett-Packard shift from Windows 7 to WebOS for its tablet.

Does this signify the start of a downturn in Microsoft’s fortunes? Or is it just that Apple is on a roll, and currently vastly overvalued?

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