What it will take to push Apple to $4 trillion

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Apple will be at a $4 trillion marker capitalization before you know it. Here’s why.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Two monumental events happened this week. Apple became the first U.S. company to be worth an astonishing $3 trillion. And a day later came the official end of BlackBerry — a series of phones that once dominated the market.

The collapse of BlackBerry is proof that today’s winners aren‘t inevitably tomorrow’s. While in the coming years Apple could become the first company to reach $4 trillion, it also could start down a path that ends in failure.

Here’s some of what Apple will do so it doesn’t end up like BlackBerry.

Apple wins race to $3 trillion market cap

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Apple earnings blow past analysts’ estimates yet again
After growing steadily for years, Apple’s market capitalization passed the $3 trillion point.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple just became the first publicly traded U.S. company to be valued at a whopping $3 trillion. AAPL stock topped out at $182.88 a share Monday before dropping slightly, bringing the market cap back below the $3 trillion milestone.

It closed at $182.01, leaving Apple’s market cap at an astonishing $2.99 trillion. But it continued to climb once again in after-hours trading.

Today in Apple history: Apple IPO mints instant millionaires

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Apple is worth more than the entire US energy sector combined
December 12, 1980, was an incredibly important day for Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac/401Calculator

December 12: Today in Apple history: Apple goes public at $22 per share, minting instant millionaires December 12, 1980: Apple goes public, floating 4.6 million shares on the stock market at $22 per share.

In the biggest tech IPO of its day, more than 40 out of 1,000 Apple employees become instant millionaires. As Apple’s biggest shareholder, 25-year-old Steve Jobs ends the day with a net worth of $217 million. However, the big payday triggers internal tensions as it highlights Cupertino’s class divide.

Today in Apple history: Lousy quarter proves Steve Jobs isn’t invincible

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$1 trillion value
A perfect storm of bad news leads to a massive $195 million quarterly loss for Apple.
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December 6: Today in Apple history: Apple suffers first quarterly loss since Steve Jobs' return December 6, 2000: Apple’s stock price falls after the company posts its first quarterly loss since Steve Jobs’ return to Cupertino in 1997.

Shares tumble $3 to just $14 a share as doom-predicting pundits worry that the big Apple comeback might come screeching to a halt. Little did they know….

Apple passes Microsoft to again become world’s most valuable company

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Apple passes Microsoft to again become world’s most valuable company
Apple is back on top, with a valuation higher than Microsoft. And Google, too.
Photo: Cult of Mac

A sharp rise in Apple’s share price allowed the Mac-maker to regain the title of publicly traded company with the highest market capitalization n the world. It beat out Microsoft, who’d held the top spot for less than a month.

An unconfirmed report of Apple’s aggressive plans to make self-driving cars helped drive a 6% increase over the past week.

Today in Apple history: Apple stock smashes through $700 barrier

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Like a bull in an ... Apple store?
Photo: Sam Valadi/Flickr CC

September 17: Today in Apple history: Apple stock smashes through $700 a share September 17, 2012: On the back of record iPhone 5 preorders of 2 million in 24 hours, Apple’s stock price hits a new all-time high. For the first time in history, AAPL breaks the $700 mark in after-hours trading. Passing the milestone cements Cupertino’s place as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

Amazingly, the new record is $270 a share higher than Apple at the start of the year. The stock rose 65% in just nine months.

Today in Apple history: Apple steals a financial record from Microsoft

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Yet another financial milestone.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Aug 20: Today in Apple history: Apple passes Microsoft as most valuable publicly traded stock ever August 20, 2012: Apple passes a financial milestone as it becomes the most valuable publicly traded stock ever.

The company it bests to attain this record? Longtime rival Microsoft, which peaked on December 30, 1999. Apple’s surge to the top spot serves as a reminder of just how radically the fortunes of both companies changed over the years.

Apple becomes world’s most profitable company

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International governments plan to rethink tax rules for the ‘digital age’
Apple earned more profits than any other company in the world.
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Apple made more money in the last year than any other company in the world, according to the new Fortune 500 rankings. With annual profits of $57.5 billion, no other enterprise came particularly close, with the nearest rival earning about $8 billion less.

This goes a long way toward explaining why Apple remains the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world.