Apple is one of the world's most well-known and successful firms. At this point, it is a boring company. This is a compliment. Despite operating in a crowded market for decades, Apple's product suite – phones, computers, devices, and a thin layer of associated services – has fueled its march to the top of the corporate food chain.
Apple's run is even more impressive when one looks at the market gyrations over this period. The past two decades have seen two major market crashes and the full range of economic headwinds. Nevertheless, Apple, now the world's most valuable company, is now generating profits of almost $100 billion annually. Incredible.
Microsoft's path to the top
If Apple's path was boring, Microsoft's was tumultuous. As I have written about over the years, Bellevue has been the backdrop for a truly epic saga. Gods under Gates, laughingstocks under Ballmer, and amid a Bulls-like run under current CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is the rare firm that can transform itself at scale.
Satya's run at Microsoft – pivoting to the cloud (Azure), acquiring prime assets (LinkedIn, Github, etc.), and investing in the most disruptive technology in a generation (OpenAI) – may go down as one of the most remarkable tenures for a chief executive in corporate history.
The state of the race
So, what's the state of the two-horse race in big tech in 2024?
Last week, Microsoft surpassed Apple as the largest US company by market cap. In the days since, it has slowly increased its edge.