Apple became the first publicly traded company to close a trading day with a $3 trillion market value, marking another milestone for a technology juggernaut that has reshaped society with a line-up of products that churn out eye-popping profits.
Apple shares closed up 2.3 per cent at $193.97 on Friday, bringing its market value to $3.04 trillion.
Apple is one of a handful of technology companies, including Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia, that helped drive the S&P 500 to a gain of nearly 16 per cent in the first half of the year.
The 47-year-old company co-founded by Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs had briefly eclipsed a $2 trillion market value on back-to-back days in January 2022, but could not hold on by the time the market closed.
Instead, Apple’s stock sank into a prolonged descent that pushed its market value briefly below $2 trillion earlier this year amid a slowdown in growth and investor jitters about rising interest rates that affected the entire tech sector.
Apple did not come close to the $3 trillion threshold again until earlier this month when the company unveiled what could be its next big product, a high-priced headset called Vision Pro that thrusts users into artificial settings known as virtual reality.
Although the significance of reaching a $3 trillion market value is largely symbolic, its magnitude is still breathtaking.
Microsoft is the second-most valuable public company at $2.5 trillion. Oil giant Saudi Aramco has a market value of $2.08 trillion. Alphabet, the parent of Google, Amazon and Nvidia, have market values above $1 trillion.
It took Apple less than two years to close with a $3 trillion market value after topping $2 trillion for the first time in August 2021, which happened about two years after the company reached $1 trillion for the first time.
The cascading trillions have been driven by the technology empire that Apple has built since Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 after being pushed aside by then-chief executive John Sculley in 1985.
At the time of his comeback, Apple was flirting with bankruptcy and so desperate for help that it turned to its once-bitter rival Microsoft for a cash infusion.
Today Apple makes so much money that it can afford to pay $105 billion annually in investor dividends and repurchases of its own stock – and still be left with nearly $56 billion in cash at the end of its last fiscal quarter.
The iPhone, unveiled by Jobs in 2007 with his hallmark showmanship, remains the crown jewel in Apple’s kingdom. Last year, the device accounted more than half of the company’s nearly $400 billion in sales.
The rest of Apple’s revenue flows in from other products such as the Macintosh computer, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and a services division that includes music and video streaming, warranty programmes, fees collected through the iPhone app store and advertising commissions that Google pays to be the default search engine on the iPhone.
Although most of Apple’s innovations were hatched while Mr Jobs was running the company, most of its wealth has been created under the reign of its current chief executive, Tim Cook, who took over shortly before Mr Jobs died in October 2011.
When Mr Jobs passed the baton to Mr Cook, Apple’s market value stood at $350 billion.