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20 Years of Apple vs. Microsoft, by Market Capitalization

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

Line chart illustrating the fluctuation of Apple vs Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company over the years.

Charted: 20 Years of Apple vs. Microsoft

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

For years, Apple and Microsoft have been switching places as the world’s most valuable company, in terms of market capitalization.

In today’s chart, we explore this history, as well as key events over the past two decades, based on data from CompaniesMarketCap and both companies. Data is from January 16, 2024.

A History of the Battle for Market Cap Dominance

During the 1990s, Microsoft capitalized on the success of Windows, supplanting General Electric as the most valuable company in the U.S. in the process.

Around the same time, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy due to intense competition in the personal computer market, high product pricing, and a lack of innovation. The company also suffered from numerous failed attempts to modernize the Macintosh operating system (Mac OS) and the failed launches of products like QuickTake digital cameras, PowerCD portable CD, audio players, speakers, and the Pippin video game console.

Over the next decade, however, after the return of Steve Jobs as the CEO, Apple’s stock performance was legendary. This can be attributed to the success of products such as the iMac, iPod, and iPhone, the launch of the famous “Think Different” advertising brand campaign, and opening the Apple Store retail chain.

DateEvent Company
Feb 2008iPhoneApple
Jul 2008App StoreApple
Feb 2010AzureMicrosoft
April 2010iPadApple
Mid-2011Tim Cook in as CEO. Steve Jobs diesApple
Feb 2014Satya Nadella becomes CEOMicrosoft
Dec 2016LinkedIn acquisitionMicrosoft
Dec 2016AirPodsApple
Jan 2022Activision Blizzard acquisitionMicrosoft
Early-2023Microsoft invests $10B into OpenAIMicrosoft

In 2004, Microsoft had a market cap of $291 billion compared to Apple’s $26 billion. By the end of that decade, Apple would reach $297 billion, surpassing its rival ($234 billion).

Market cap (USD)Apple Microsoft
2024*$3.002 T$3.009 T
2023$2.994 T$2.794 T
2022$2.066 T$1.787 T
2021$2.901 T$2.522 T
2020$2.255 T$1.681 T
2019$1.287 T$1.200 T
2018$746.07 B$780.36 B
2017$860.88 B$659.90 B
2016$608.96 B$483.16 B
2015$583.61 B$439.67 B
2014$643.12 B$381.72 B
2013$500.74 B$310.50 B
2012$499.69 B$223.66 B
2011$377.51 B$218.38 B
2010$297.09 B$234.52 B
2009$190.98 B$268.55 B
2008$75.99 B$172.92 B
2007$174.03 B$332.11 B
2006$72.98 B$291.94 B
2005$60.79 B$271.54 B
2004$26.05 B$290.71 B
2003$7.88 B$295.29 B
2002$5.16 B$276.63 B

*As of January 2024

Since then, the top spot has been most often held by Apple. The company only fell behind Microsoft in 2018 when concerns about COVID-driven supply chain shortages affected the iPhone maker’s stock price.

More recently, the Apple vs. Microsoft race was shaken up once again. Microsoft became the world’s most valuable company in January 2024, after the rival iPhone maker’s shares had a weak start to the year due to growing concerns over demand in China.

Microsoft’s shares have also been strongly buoyed by the company’s early lead in generative artificial intelligence, mainly thanks to its early investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.

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Can Data Centers Be Sources of Sustainable Heat?

Data centers produce a staggering amount of heat, but what if instead of treating it as waste, we could harness it instead?

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Diagram showing how waste heat from data centers could be recaptured and recycled to provide sustainable heat in residential and commercial settings.

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The following content is sponsored by HIVE Digital

Can Data Centers Be Sources of Sustainable Heat?

Data centers support the modern technologies on which we rely, but also generate incredible amounts of heat as waste. 

And since computers tend to be very sensitive to heat, operators go to great lengths (and expense) to get rid of it, even relocating to countries with lower year-round average temperatures. But what if instead of letting all that heat disappear into thin air, we could harness it instead?

In this visualization, we’ve teamed up with HIVE Digital to see how data centers are evolving to recapture and recycle that energy.

How Much Heat Does a Data Center Produce?

To get an idea how much heat we’re talking about, let’s imagine a mid-sized cryptocurrency operation with 1,000 of the most energy-efficient mining rigs on the market today, the Antminer S21 Hydro. One of these rigs needs 5,360 watts of power, which over a year adds up to 47 MWh.

Multiply that by 1,000 and you end up with over 160 billion BTU, which is enough energy to heat over 4,600 U.S. homes for a year, or if it happens to be Oscar season, enough heat to pop 463,803 metric tons of popcorn. Less if you want melted butter on it. 

How Waste Heat Recycling Works?

At a high level, waste heat is recaptured and transferred via heat exchangers to district heating networks, for example, where it can be used to provide sustainable heat. Cool air is then returned to the data center and the cycle begins again.

Liquid cooling is by far the most efficient means of recapturing and transporting heat, since water can hold roughly four times as much heat as air.

Data centers around the world are already recycling their waste heat to farm trout in Norway, heat research facilities in the U.S., and to heat swimming pools in France.

A Greener Future for Data Centers?

Waste heat recycling has so far been voluntary, led by operators looking to put their operations on a more sustainable footing, but new regulations could change that. 

Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer in the Netherlands require all new data centers to explore recycling their waste heat. In Norway, they require it for all new data centers above 2 MW, while Denmark has taken a carrot approach, and developed tax cuts and financial incentives. And in late 2023, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive came into force, which will require data centers to recycle waste heat, or show that recovery is technically or economically infeasible. 

With Europe leading the way, could North America be very far behind?

HIVE Digital Provides Sustainable Heat

HIVE Digital is already recycling waste heat from its data center operations in Canada and Sweden. 

Their 30 MW data center in Lachute, Québec, is heating a 200,000 sq. ft. factory, while their 32 MW data center in Boden, Sweden, is heating a 90,000 sq. ft. greenhouse, helping to provide sustainably grown local produce, just one degree short of the Arctic Circle.

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Learn how HIVE Digital is helping to meet the demands of emerging technologies like AI, sustainably.

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