In a significant shift in the tech industry landscape, Microsoft has surpassed Apple to become the world's most valuable public company as of January 12, 2024. The change reflects a broader trend in the stock market driven by the increasing prominence of generative A.I. Notably, the company's market value surged by over $1 trillion in the past year, reaching $2.89 trillion, edging past Apple's $2.87 trillion, according to Bloomberg.
Unquestionably, the rise of generative A.I. has played a pivotal role in reshaping the stock market hierarchy in recent times. A technology capable of answering questions, creating images, and writing code, generative A.I. has already disrupted numerous industries and holds the potential to create trillions of dollars in economic value.
Microsoft's strategic embrace of generative A.I. under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella has propelled the company forward. Nadella, who took the helm in 2014, refocused the company on cloud computing, turning it into a formidable challenger to Amazon. Subsequently, he made aggressive investments in generative A.I., including collaborations with OpenAI, the startup behind the ChatGPT chatbot powered by the GPT-4 technology.
Generative A.I. has already been incorporated into various Microsoft products, such as the Bing search engine, Windows operating system, and productivity applications like Excel and Outlook. This move has contributed to its growth, with generative A.I. accounting for about three percentage points of growth to its flagship cloud computing product, Azure, in the three months ending September 2023.
In contrast, Apple, which led the stock market for over a decade, is facing challenges. The iPhone, once a revolutionary product, has seen slowing sales growth, and the company's shift towards services has shown signs of fatigue. While its shares rose around 50 percent in 2023, concerns about weakening iPhone sales persist, especially in the face of challenges in the Chinese market.
Analysts have pointed to the need for Apple to embrace generative A.I. to maintain its position as one of the most innovative tech companies. The company has reportedly been testing large language models for chatbots and engaging in discussions with publishers to train generative A.I. systems.
As Microsoft takes the lead, the tech industry undergoes a fundamental shift, emphasizing the increasing importance of generative A.I. in shaping the future of technology companies. The competition between Microsoft and Apple underscores the transformative impact of emerging technologies on market dynamics.