Apple became the first publicly listed US company worth $1 trillion (£770bn) on Thursday, after its share price was buoyed by a stronger-than-expected earnings report.
The landmark caps the company’s decade-long transformation from a niche maker of personal computers to the world’s most valuable company, a meteoric rise fuelled by the popularity of its iPhone handsets.
The broad impact of that shift outside of the technology field was underscored earlier this week by an Ofcom report that found people now check their mobile devices every 12 minutes on average.
Smartphone saturation has been highlighted by both Apple and Google this year, with both firms introducing dashboards aimed at helping users monitor the amount of time they spend using their gadgets.
The iPhone, introduced in 2007, was the first smartphone to catch on with a mass public, and has seen Apple’s revenue surpass the economic outputs of Portugal, New Zealand and other countries.
The company’s market value is now greater than the capitalisation of Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble and AT&T combined, having risen more than 50,000 percent since its 1980 public offering.
Tim Cook, who took over the chief executive role from Steve Jobs in 2011, has doubled the company’s profits and fostered a 2,000 percent growth in its share price, even as landmark new product lines – which, under Jobs, included the iMac, the iPod and the iPad – have tapered off.
Indeed, the spectacular growth in smartphones that means 78 percent of UK adults now own one, according to the Ofcom report, has significantly levelled off in recent months, with smartphone shipments showing their first-ever decline earlier this year.
Nevertheless, Apple this week reported quarterly profits of $11.5bn on record sales of $53.3bn. Last year’s sales were $229bn, a more than eleven-fold rise from its less than $20bn in sales the year before the iPhone’s introduction. Over the same period, net profit rose from just under $2bn to $48.4bn.
“Growth was strong all around the world,” said Apple head of finance Luca Maestri in introducing the latest figures.
Apple’s shares have risen 30 percent over the past year and were also boosted by the announcement that the company has set aside $100bn for a new share repurchase programme.
The latest results were fuelled by sales of the iPhone X, which sells for about $1,000, along with App Store, Apple Music and iCloud subscriptions.
The only other company to have traded at the same level is Chinese government-controlled PetroChina, which briefly reached a valuation of about $1.1tn in 2007 following its public listing in Shanghai, according to Reuters.
Amazon.com is the second-largest listed US company, at about $880bn, followed closely by Google parent Alphabet and Microsoft.
By contrast, Facebook, which has at other times been another star of Wall Street, saw the single worst day in stock market history last week when its shares shed more than $120bn, losing more than 20 percent of their value, following repeated data scandals and a disappointing earnings report.