Apple has been holding the position of being the most valuable US company in the market for a while now. But, for a brief moment today, Microsoft reached a market capitalization of close to $813 billion, thereby superseding Apple which fell behind by about a billion dollars. While the temporary shift recalls a long history of rivalry between the two tech giants, in spite of their numerous partnerships; it brings to the fore more prominently the declines that many tech companies have been facing this year.
Apple, like most other tech companies, seems to have fallen a long way since the beginning of the year. For its part, Microsoft, although facing a decline, has maintained a steady pace so far as investor confidence is concerned. The last time Microsoft had a similar victory over Apple was back in 2010. Earlier this year, Apple became the first US company to achieve a $1 trillion market cap, followed shortly by Amazon. Microsoft, however, has yet to reach that milestone, and all the three companies have fallen short of the cap since due to a trying period for tech stocks.
Today's market valuation shifts is not a definitive or absolute statement on the relative health of the companies; with the determination being based on factors far more complex. But in general, Apple has been barely meeting (or falling just short of) investor expectations lately; one of the biggest reason for which is the saturation of the smartphone market.
Apple is not able to sell as many phones as it would’ve wished and the company seems to be focusing on making more money from each iPhone purchase with higher per-unit-prices and add-on-services and content and software subscriptions instead. This is not, however, an indication that Apple may be in danger as a company; since by many metrics, it still occupies an enviable position. It simply means that it has recently been struggling to meet the investors’ high demands for continual growth.
As for Microsoft, in spite of having its own fair share of problems, the tech giant has nevertheless secured some big wins lately. The Microsoft Azure and Office 365 cloud services have been thriving, and the Xbox platform, in spite of lagging behind Sony's PlayStation, is looking up with major studio acquisitions along with an upcoming streaming strategy that would leverage Azure, pronouncing an advantage Sony might not be able to match.
More relevant to the Apple comparison is the fact that Microsoft's Surface computers have crept into some of Apple's Mac mindshare with creative professionals, even though they make for a smaller portion of the business for either conglomerate.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has focused Microsoft's recent strategies on software subscriptions and cloud services which seem to be a successful plan at the moment, with the company being better able to weather recent turmoil for tech stocks better than some other companies, with a few tech stocks being untouched by the recent troubles.