By the numbers: Apple vs. the world

The news that Apple planned to unveil its third-generation iPad in early March sent Apple’s stock soaring to $500 and beyond, and it brought back a meme that has come and gone quite frequently over the past year: “Apple is worth more than.” Ever since Apple began to go back and forth with Exxon for the title of most valuable company in the world, the media has become obsessed with finding combinations of companies, national debts and other interesting things that Apple is worth more than. The game has become quite easy now that Apple has put some separation between itself and Exxon — as of market close on Friday, Apple’s market capitalization topped $460 billion while Exxon’s value sat at just under $397 billion — but in the context of Apple’s rivals, there are two key areas where this meme is of particular interest. Read on for more.

Last week as Apple’s stock price shot up to within a few dollars of $500, the Apple is worth more than meme claimed two new victims: Google and Microsoft. The combined value of Apple’s two main smartphone platform rivals fell just short of Apple’s market cap last week, and as of Friday’s close the companies’ value totaled $452.88 billion. Apple’s market cap as of Friday’s close is $460.05 billion. That in itself is mind boggling, but there is another equally impressive angle that wasn’t covered last week.

Apple is worth more than every single one of its smartphone vendor rivals combined.

Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt noted last week that Apple managed to pull in 80% of all smartphone industry profits in the fourth calendar quarter of 2011 by his estimates. Considering Apple posted the most profitable quarter in history among technology companies, this shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Apple’s dominance becomes even more apparent, however, when looking at the smartphone industry from a different angle… the value of the key players within the industry.

As of Friday’s close, the combined market capitalization of each of Apple’s key vendor rivals — Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Motorola Mobility, RIM, Sony and LG — sits at $225.36 billion. Apple is worth more than twice that figure.

While those seven companies, along with Apple, represent all of the major global players in the smartphone industry, there are a number of other companies with sizable smartphone businesses such as Huawei, ZTE, Kyocera and Sharp. Add on the combined value of those four companies and the total now sits at $259.08 billion.

Acer, Philips and Toshiba each sell smartphones as well, though mobile devices are certainly not at the center of their respective businesses. They’re still industry players, however, and their combined market value brings the total to just over $300 billion as of Friday’s close.

ASUS also makes smartphones along with the notebooks and tablets it is best known for, and Alcatel-Lucent has a few handsets on the market as well. And what about Dell? The Texas-based tech giant has slowed its mobile efforts recently, but it still has two smartphone models on the market. With these three companies accounted for, the combined total value of all smartphone vendors excluding Apple climbs to $343.17 billion as of the close of the market on Friday.

There are a handful of other companies that sell smartphones but for all intents and purposes, these 17 brands make up Apple’s competition. And when their market caps are combined, the total value of these 17 companies is still more than $100 billion short of Apple’s current value.

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