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AAPL passes Microsoft to reach 2nd on US market cap list

We expected it to happen eventually, but not quite this fast: Apple's market capitalization now exceeds that of longtime rival Microsoft. As of the 4pm ET market close today, Apple's total share value bests Microsoft's by nearly US$3 billion -- Apple stands at US$222.5 billion, while Microsoft is at US$219.53 billion. You may see some further fluctuation in aftermarket trading.

This means that, at least in terms of market capitalization, the only US company worth more than Apple is Exxon, at US$278 billion. Apple surpassed Walmart's market cap last month, and Henry Blodget pointed out this morning that Apple was already ahead of Microsoft via the 'enterprise value' metric (accounting for the companies' relative amounts of cash and debt).

Oddly, Apple's leapfrogging of Microsoft's market cap has had less to do with Apple's stock and more to do with Microsoft's; over the past 60 days or so, Apple's market cap has grown by less than US$10 billion, while Microsoft's has plummeted by almost $40 billion. No matter which way you look at it, though, Apple's surpassing of Microsoft's market cap is, just as the New York Times says, an absolutely stunning turnaround.

Not bad for a company that was all but on its deathbed in the late 1990s.

Chris Rawson has been using Apple's products on and off since 1982. He was a mostly a Windows user during Apple's "wilderness years" in the mid- to late-90s, but he came back to the Mac in 2003.

From 1995 to 1999, Chris served in the US Navy as a nuclear-rated electrician's mate and performed maintenance duties on an aircraft carrier's twin nuclear power plants. After leaving the Navy, he spent two years working as a Radiation Health Physics Technician in the private sector until a contamination accident convinced him to pursue a different career. He was thoroughly disappointed when the accidental radiation exposure failed to give him any superpowers whatsoever.

From 2007 to 2008, Chris worked as an editor for PR Newswire in Cleveland. While at PR Newswire, he gained inside knowledge of the workings of the US media and an amazing repertoire of anti-Cleveland jokes.

Chris moved to New Zealand in 2008. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Kent State University and has earned a Master of Arts in English from Massey University with upper second-class honours.