Growing pains

This morning’s Observer column.

Over the past two months, Apple’s market capitalisation (ie its value as measured by the stock market) averaged out at $229.8bn.

The corresponding figure for Microsoft was $215.9bn. And yes, you read those numbers correctly: Apple is now worth significantly more than Microsoft, and the difference isn’t just a flash in the Wall Street pan.

This has implications for all of us who follow these things. The mainstream media, for example, need to discard the rose-tinted spectacles through which they have viewed Apple ever since Steve Jobs returned to the helm in 1997. Apple is no longer the Lucky Little Company That Could but a looming, secretive, manipulative corporate giant.

Recent developments suggest that Apple itself also needs to adjust to its new status as just another company…

Apropos the Microsoft comparison, Randall Stross has a useful piece in today’s NYT. Microsoft continues to be a formidable company, but from the viewpoint of investors it’s become more like GE or Big Oil (excepting BP, perhaps) — a good ‘banker’ stock for a part of one’s pension portfolio.