Few things dominate our lives quite as much as technology does. Despite decades of human evolution, it seems we are lost without our devices, so much so that to forget our phones on the morning commute renders us wayward and wandering, god forbid we should actually have to consult a map.
As technology continues to form a tight grip around every aspect of our daily life – there’s even an app designed to help calm us down, because apparently disconnecting from our phones only leads to greater anxiety – it begs the question: just what companies are leading the charge? More and more tech start-ups are popping up and garnering serious attention, but the industry also has the heavy-hitters like Apple and Microsoft to contend with.
While Apple was the world’s most valuable tech company at the start of the year, with Forbes reporting in May that the company had again taken out top spot for the fourth-straight year, they had slipped to second come August. But it still goes without saying that the company truly does dominate the tech industry. Even as Samsung launched the first foldable phone, Apple came out swinging with a new line-up of iPhones, noise-cancelling AirPods, and updates to other products on the market, too.
In May, Apple had an annual revenue of $US262 billion, and the largest top line out of all other tech companies on the Forbes list, thanks largely to clocking in a bottom line of $US59 billion.
But before Microsoft went on to take out the top spot, it was Amazon that spent some time at the number one billing, becoming the world’s most valuable brand in June of this year. According to a report from CNBC, Amazon’s jump was due to the variety of services the company now sells. Doreen Wang, Kantar’s global head of BrandZ, explained to the publication: “Amazon’s phenomenal brand value growth of almost $108 billion in the last year demonstrates how brands are now less anchored to individual categories and regions. The boundaries are blurring as technology fluency allow brands, such as Amazon, Google and Alibaba, to offer a range of services across multiple consumer touchpoints.”
But all that wasn’t enough to have Amazon close out the year at the top spot and ultimately, it was Microsoft that went on to get the job done with a staggering $US1.04 trillion.
Here are the 10 most valuable tech companies for 2019.
Microsoft Corp (MSFT): $1.5 trillion
Since the 1990s, Microsoft has been asserting its dominance over the tech industry. But central to its longevity and success are the CEOs guiding the business. After Satya Nadella took the reins from Steve Ballmer in 2014, many have credited the CEO with revitalising the company, quickly pivoting MSFT into the cloud where its high-margin Azure computing platform has grown at a rapid pace.
Apple (AAPL): $1.3 trillion
Apple continues to be one of the most successful and valuable tech companies in the world, thanks largely to its late founder Steve Jobs who pioneered a closed-system philosophy meaning that the company makes its own hardware and software, and has amassed millions of loyal followers thanks to its hit product, the iPhone.
Amazon (AMZN): $1.2 trillion
There were a number of doubters, but it seems Amazon.com lived up to the hype and exceeded all expectation. Amazon passed $US100 billion in revenue in 2015, and has only gone from strength to strength thanks to the varied products on its service.
Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG): $1.1 trillion
Holding company Alphabet encapsulates the huge companies like Google, which is increasingly going head-to-head with Facebook in the digital advertising market. Google continues to be the world’s most dominant search engine, and now it’s only set to get bigger as it goes after growth markets like e-commerce with Google Shopping.
Facebook (FB): $765 billion
The company may have come under intense scrutiny due to a number of privacy issues, but Mark Zuckerberg seems to have weathered the storm (how successfully is another story entirely). But with its suite of apps like Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, the company still has built an incredible audience of loyal users across the world.
Alibaba Group Holding (BABA): $654 billion
China’s largest e-commerce company continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Alibaba revenue soared from $US8.6 billion in fiscal 2014 to $US37.8 billion in fiscal 2018. As it expands into physical retail with supermarkets and grocery delivery, many are suggesting the company is only going to get bigger.
Tencent Holdings (TCEHY): $583 billion
Tencent is a sprawling Chinese holding company, thriving on gaming, social media, e-commerce, and online video. WeChat, which proves to be Tencent’s messaging service, boasts a huge following, with over 1 billion daily active users. Tencent Games division is also becoming the world’s single largest gaming company.
Samsung Electronics (SSNLF): $354 billion
South Korea-based Samsung Electronics has grown significantly in the last decade, emerging as Apple’s most venerable opponent. This was made clear this year with the launch of the foldable phone, with many claiming it to be the next big thing in the tech industry and reinventing the smartphone for the foreseeable future.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM): $312 billion
TSM took Cisco’s spot among the top 10 companies in 2019, despite being a relative newcomer. Known as a semiconductor foundry, the company takes other chipmakers’ designs and manufactures the technology for them.
Intel Corp. (INTC): $300 billion
Semiconductor giant Intel rose to prominence in the 1990s, but far from disappearing, the company has continued to be a dominant force in the tech industry. Having made chips for smartphones and tablets, it has since pivoted into the data centre business and is even starting to look to get a foothold in artificial intelligence.