Apple shares hit $500

Apple shares have soared from being valued at $3 in 1997 to $500 in 2012. Some leap. To be exact, a 16,566% leap.

A few weeks ago the iPhone maker posted more than $13bn of income for the last quarter. The latest numbers mean Apple has fought off Exxon Mobil for the title of most-valued global company.


Big Apple

Apple shares have risen around 17% in the last month alone and some Wall Street analysts are now penning in a rise to $575. Apple's business model is attractive on a number of fronts, with hardware, software and digital music (iTunes) channels. It owns the whole Apple experience, end-to-end.

This integration is increasingly powerful. Bear in mind that the iPhone and iPad are all very recent products. None of these inventions had reached the market even just six years ago.

Then there's the loyalty issue. Apple users tend to faithful, not promiscious. That's good news for investors because it means that revenues are more likely to be predictable. Even if Apple customers do get itchy feet, the lock-in costs are high.

Thanks Asia

Wall Street analysts, then, may be right when talking about the medium-term growth direction of the company. The company has also been helped from another, less talked-of direction - the Asian supply chain (though it's not just about cheap labour and the worrying safety concerns).

It's also about the relationship between governments have with their own domestic corporations, guided and supported by tax breaks and underpinned by close relationships that support training, jobs and investment. Not just large corporations but a wealth of nimble, medium-sized companies too. A model that Germany, as well as Asia, has also followed.

When will the good news start to slow? A new iPad 3 is rumoured to be close to launch, and an iPhone 5 is due by early summer...
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