Apple becomes highest-valued tech company

No, that headline isn't a typo. As the Associated Press reports, Apple's market capitalization surpassed Microsoft's on Wednesday, making the Mac maker the highest-valued technology company in the entire world.

The AP jotted down all the details:

Market cap is the dollar value of a company's outstanding shares. On Wednesday, Apple Inc.'s shares slipped $1.11 to close at $244.11, making its market cap about $222 billion. . . . But Microsoft Corp.'s stock fell $1.06, or 4.1 percent, to close at $25.01, for market cap of about $219 billion.

The news agency goes on to say only one U.S. company has a higher market capitalization than Apple now: oil-and-gas giant Exxon Mobil. In terms of revenue, though, Apple still has a ways to go before catching up to Microsoft—the two companies raked in $42.9 billion and $58.4 billion, respectively, for 2009.

Surpassing Microsoft's worth is still quite an achievement. In 1997, right around the time Steve Jobs returned to the company as interim CEO, Apple had dwindled almost to the point of irrelevance. That same year, Dell CEO Michael Dell famously said when asked what could be done to fix Apple, "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." These days, Apple racks up hugely profitable quarters and sells tens of millions of iPods and iPhones every year.

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