Apple topples Microsoft from its perch

The irrepressible Apple has become the world's largest technology company in terms of market capitalisation, having ousted Microsoft into second place.

Share trading yesterday put Apple's total value at $222 billion (£154 billion). Microsoft's current share price puts its market cap at $219 billion. While Apple shares fell by 0.4 per cent in trading Microsoft fared much worse, seeing the value of its shares fall by four per cent.

The rise of Apple has coincided with the relative decline in Microsoft's fortunes. While Apple has emerged as consumer champion with simple yet effective devices such as the iPhone and subsequently the iPad, Microsoft seemed to grow too big for its boots.

Its apparent bullying of smaller rivals, particularly in the browser market where it managed to get up the noses of regulators on both sides of the pond, has seen a consumer backlash exploited by the likes of Firefox, the alternative browser made by Mozilla.

And then there was Vista, of course, which was loathed by geeks and therefore distrusted by the general public. This may have been all well and good while Bill Gates was still kicking about. Folk do love a geek, and Gates was the friendly public face of a convicted monopolist.

But now that Gates has ambled off to make a name for himself by saving the planet from mosquitoes, his boots have been filled by Steve Ballmer, whose high-octane style, is miles away from the speccy nerd persona Gates cultivated by turning up to give presentations with his notes stuffed down the back of his trousers and then delivering his message looking and sounding like a cuddly mix of a pre-pubescent Macaulay Culkin and Kermit the frog.

In comparison, Ballmer is more like Sgt. Bilko.