“In the annals of meaningless milestones, Apple’s latest achievement — surpassing Microsoft, circa 1999, as the largest U.S. company ever — is right up there,” John C. Abell opines for Reuters. “I mean, how high is up? How big is BIG? What does Apple win, Johnny!?”

“But it did get me to thinking again about the lifespan of successful tech and Internet companies. There seems to be a trajectory that grants them life in the fast lane for 10 to 20 years before they are overtaken, made obsolete or dismissed as boring,” Abell writes. “During the tech bubble of the late ’90s there were a lot of screwy valuations for companies that are now worth exactly nothing. Netscape was valued at $4.2 billion by AOL. Yahoo paid $5 billion for Broadcast.com. CMGI bought a search engine called AltaVista for $2.3 billion and scotched a deal to sell another, Lycos, for more than $100 a share. Terra then purchased Lycos for $12.5 billion. Microsoft came by its valuation honestly. It powered virtually all of the computers in the world, and its Office suite was ubiquitous — and neither of these facts has changed. Microsoft hasn’t faded as much as its buzz has.”

“Can Apple avoid doing the same? I think the answer is a qualified yes… if or when Apple is eclipsed in this meaningless milestone, it certainly won’t be for the same reasons Microsoft fell from that perch. There may be some tepid selling that may depress Apple stock with the rollout of the iPhone 5 and the anticipated iPad mini in September — this ‘buy the rumor, sell the news’ strategy is very common with Apple. But there is no reason to believe that sales for these devices won’t be as robust as those of their predecessors,” Abell writes. “The real question is: When will Apple run out of ideas? That fear was given a new voice when Steve Jobs died last year. It is hard to imagine that his particular genius could be captured even by the management team he cultivated during the staggeringly successful — and unpredictable — last decade… But don’t count on many misfires from this behemoth for some time to come.”

Full article – recommended – here.

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