As the speculation builds up around Apple’s impending launch of the new iPhone and a possible release of a smaller iPad, Apple’s share price has reached new heights and it has become the world’s most valuable company. However, the fact that this is the same price that Microsoft reached in 1999 might serve as a warning for some. Microsoft’s share price crashed along with everything else in 2000 but has languished, unchanged at around $30 for the past 12 years.
In fact, go back 22 years before that and IBM was at its pinnacle. In 1967, IBM was valued at $192.3 million and after you adjust for inflation that is approximately $1.3 trillion in today’s terms. IBM was in turn eclipsed by Microsoft before it redefined itself as a successful software and services company.
One could argue that the rise and fall of both Microsoft and IBM speaks as much about their failures as Apple’s success. I use the word failure somewhat ironically here. Microsoft and IBM are both still extremely profitable companies that earn roughly the same as Apple. Despite Microsoft’s failure so far to make inroads into the mobile market, its dominance in the PC and server software market is unchanged and largely unchallenged.
It's not all about the money