For the first time in three years, Google topped Apple on BrandZ's annual ranking of the top 100 most valuable global brands.
Put together by MillwardBrown, this year's ranking gave Google a brand value of US$158 billion and Apple a brand value of $147 billion. Of course, the notion of what constitutes a "valuable brand" is somewhat nebulous, which perhaps explains why Apple in 2014 saw its brand value drop by $38 billion while Google's increased by approximately $40 billion.
The report explains Apple's decline in brand value thusly:
The decline in Apple's brand value reflects softening of the share price because of investor concern about the future of the company after founder Steve Jobs, and the recent lack of breakthrough products that differentiate Apple.
That said, Apple's share price performance over time suggests that confidence remains strong in a technology brand that makes products, retails them around the world, provides content and is renowned for combining technology prowess, design and service. In BrandZ research, consumers rate the Apple brand extremely high on being different, innovative and meaningful. This may be the year that Apple introduces another major innovation – iPhone 6 or Apple TV. The company entered talks with Comcast, the largest cable company in the US. To drive volume, Apple introduced a new line of more popularly priced phones and it signed an agreement with China Mobile, the world's largest telecom provider with over 750 million customers. Like a luxury brand, Apple faces the dilemma of balancing exclusivity to protect the brand and command a price premium, while expanding to mass to gain volume at the risk of brand dilution.
Samsung challenged Apple with its Galaxy smartphones. Operating on the Android platform, the phones have a larger screen than the iPhone and other features that Samsung successfully promotes. The company preempted Apple with the launch of wearable technology, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch that coordinates with Samsung phones and tablets.
Not exactly the most thorough analysis, but what do you expect from a report that covers 100 companies.
Incidentally, shares of Apple have been on a tear lately. In the last month or so, Apple stock has gone up by nearly 17%.
As a final point of interest, the companies rounding out the top 10 include IBM, Microsoft, McDonalds, Coke, Visa, AT&T, Marlboro, and Amazon. Some tech companies which made the top 100 cut include Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn which all checked in at 69, 71, and 78 respectively.