Apple first earned the title of the world's highest-valued company in 2011, but rumors about the impending iPhone 5 sent its stock soaring to new heights on Monday, earning it a new distinction, that of the highest-valued company in stock market history.
Shares of the fruity firm swelled more than 2 per cent on Monday, topping $664 and later passing the ominous $666 mark in after-hours trading, putting its total market capitalization at $624.6bn.
That beats the previous record of $622bn, set by Microsoft during a brief, shining moment in 1999.
In comparison, Redmond's fortunes have flagged over the last decade. It's currently valued at around $257bn, down almost 60 per cent from its peak, and in July it reported its first-ever quarterly loss, despite posting record revenues.
These days Microsoft is only the fourth most valuable company in terms of market capitalization, behind Apple and the oil giants Exxon Mobil and PetroChina. Exxon Mobil, the second-ranked company, is itself now worth only about 65 per cent as much as Apple.
Judging by the latest figures from the United Nations, Apple's current valuation is higher than the gross domestic product of Hong Kong, Israel, and Singapore combined.
Mind you, if we take inflation into account, Microsoft's bubble-era valuation looks even more impressive. The company's peak 1999 market cap would be worth $857.2bn in 2012 dollars, making Microsoft comparatively much more valuable than Apple at both companies' respective peaks.
Which leads your Reg hack to wonder what other companies might beat Apple's current valuation, once currency inflation is taken into account. The Dutch East India Company comes to mind. Are there others? ®