Apple overtakes Microsoft as biggest tech company

SEATTLE Wed May 26, 2010 5:02pm EDT

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Apple Inc shot past Microsoft Corp as the world's biggest tech company based on market value on Wednesday, the latest milestone in the resurgence of the maker of the iPhone, which nearly went out of business in the 1990s.

Apple's shares rose as much 2.8 percent on Nasdaq on Wednesday, as Microsoft shares floundered, briefly pushing its market value above $229 billion, ahead of its longtime rival.

Both stocks ended down after a late-day sell-off, but Apple emerged ahead with a market value of about $222 billion, compared with Microsoft's $219 billion, according to Reuters data.

Apple shares closed down 0.4 percent at $244.11 on Nasdaq, while Microsoft fell 4 percent to a seven-month low of $25.01.

Shares of Apple are worth more than 10 times what they were 10 years ago, as it has profited from revolutionizing consumer electronics with its stylish, easy to use products such as the iPod, iPhone and MacBook laptops.

The last time Apple had a higher market value than Microsoft was December 19, 1989, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

Microsoft, whose operating system runs on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers, has not been able to match growth rates from its hey-day 1990s. Its stock is down 20 percent from 10 years ago.

Apple, which struggled for many years to get its products into the mainstream, resorted to a $150 million investment from the much larger Microsoft in 1997 in order to keep it afloat. At that time, Microsoft's market value was more than five times that of Apple.

Microsoft still leads Apple in sales. In the latest quarter, Microsoft reported $14.5 billion in revenue compared with Apple's $13.5 billion.

Cupertino, California-based Apple is now the second-largest company on the Standard & Poor's 500 index by market value, behind energy behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp.

(Additional reporting Rodrigo Campos and David Gaffen; Editing by Gary Hill and Richard Chang)

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