Google Just Became The Most Valuable Company In The World

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Since 2011, Apple has been the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.* That just changed.

Alphabet is now the most valuable company in the world. (If you've forgotten what Alphabet is, it's Google. Long story.) Alphabet had been edging closer to Apple's lead, and after posting strong holiday sales numbers in its quarterly-earnings call Monday, Alphabet's overall market cap soared to $550.6 billion, edging out Apple's $529.1 billion.

Interestingly, that doesn't mean Alphabet actually made more money than Apple last year. Apple made $75.9 billion last quarter alone. Alphabet made only $21.3 billion in that same time frame.

What it does mean is that investors see Alphabet is on the up-and-up, while Apple's meteoric rise has started to flatline as iPad and iPhone sales slow. Profits from growing mobile-search traffic are largely to credit for Alphabet's rise, according to its Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, as is YouTube ad revenue. And the company's "moon-shot" efforts (things such as its Google Fiber high-speed internet service and developments with self-driving cars), while decidedly not profitable, show that it is looking toward the future and willing to make big bets on it.

With Apple rumored to hold a keynote event in March to unveil a new iPad and updated version of the iPhone 5s, it could certainly regain its crown three months from now. If not, then maybe we really have hit peak iPhone.

*Except for one small period in 2013, when Exxon surpassed Apple.

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