Following a record-breaking first quarter, which featured revenue of $46.33 billion on a net profit of $13.06 billion, Apple Inc. now has a market capitalization value of more than $500 billion.
The latest milestone makes the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. It joins an exclusive group of corporations to have ever reached the half a trillion dollar plateau, including Exxon Mobil Corp., General Electric Co., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Cisco Systems Inc.
Apple also currently has $97.6 billion in cash and investments, leading many to believe that the company will likely declare a quarterly dividend of around $2 per share to shareholders at some point during the fiscal year.
The dividend payout would total around $7.5 billion, in line with past dividend payments from other large technology companies like International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
With the forthcoming widely expected and much anticipated March 7 announcement of the next iteration of the popular iPad tablet computer, analysts believe Apple’s sales figures will continue to grow exponentially.
The iPad 3 is presumed to include an improved Retina display akin to the iPhone 4, a speedier multi-core processor, a higher megapixel camera, faster 4G LTE-enabled Internet connectivity, and perhaps an enhanced version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system tweaked for the tablet.
Apple has sold an estimated 60 million iPad units to date; however, unlike the iPad 2 release window a year ago, the tablet computer market has grown increasingly more competitive with new players vying for their own niche.
Principally among them are Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook Tablet, Research In Motion Limited’s BlackBerry PlayBook, and a host of Android operating system-based devices—all of whom aim to differentiate themselves from the iPad through aggressive pricing, a variety of screen sizes, with oftentimes improved features and functionality.
Despite this evolving tablet market dynamic, Apple is and will for the foreseeable future continue to be the industry leader. This is primarily because of its streamlined mobile operating system interface, coupled with its robust application ecosystem, regardless of price-point or hardware features.
If Apple’s game-changing track record of designing iconic, stylish, innovative, and intuitive devices is any indicator, loyal consumers around the world will continue to flock to the brand and inevitably make the iPad 3 the latest “must have” product of the year.