Apple shares hit $700 for first time

Apple iPhone 5Apple's (NAS: AAPL) stock reached $700 for the first time on Tuesday, the day after it announced that orders for its iPhone 5 topped 2 million in the first 24 hours.

The stock traded as high as $701.44 in the morning, up a quarter of a percent from Monday's close. It later fell slightly. It had come within 20 cents of $700 on Monday.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The rally in Apple's (NAS: AAPL) stock price puts the company's market value at $656 billion.

The $700 mark is somewhat of an arbitrary milestone for Apple's stock, representing little more than a nice round number and a record high trading level.

The company, after all, already enjoys the distinction as the world's most valuable public company ever, at least if one ignores inflation. Google Inc., its Silicon Valley neighbor, saw its stock price surpass $700 in 2007. On Tuesday, Google's stock was trading at $715.24. But the online search leader's market capitalization is well below Apple's at $234.1 billion.

Apple (NAS: AAPL) started taking orders for the iPhone 5 at 3 a.m. EDT Friday. Orders during the first 24 hours more than doubled what Apple had for its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, over the same period last October.

"This was despite somewhat lukewarm reviews and some claiming it had 'lack of a wow factor,' Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said in a note to investors. "We continue to believe many underestimate iPhone 5 in that it is a significant update and will drive a powerful product cycle."

Wu estimates that Apple will likely ship 27 million iPhones in the current quarter. That's up from his earlier estimate of 26 million.

Apple (NAS: AAPL) said on Monday that while most orders will be delivered this Friday, when the phone goes on sale in stores in the U.S. and eight other countries, demand for the iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply. That means some of the devices will be delivered in October.

Buyers who have a two-year service agreement with AT&T (T), Sprint (S) or Verizon Wireless (VZ) are able to order the phone for $199 (16 gigabyte model), $299 (32 GB) or $399 (64 GB).

The iPhone 5 represents the first major revision of the iPhone's screen size since the first model was introduced in 2007. The new iPhone has an elongated screen, at 4 inches measured diagonally. That allows room for another row of icons and lets widescreen movies fit better. Earlier models had 3.5-inch screens. The new phone is also thinner and weighs less than previous versions. It can operate on LTE cellular networks and sports a new processor and updated software.

Apple (NAS: AAPL) shares have risen 87 percent since Oct. 5, when CEO Steve Jobs died. The stock was up 15 cents at $699.93 in Tuesday morning trading after briefly surpassing $700.

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Apple shares hit $700 for first time

Apple I (1976): Apple's first product was a computer for hobbyists and engineers, made in small numbers. Wozniak, left, designed it and Jobs dealt with the funding and marketing. The computer went on sale priced at $666.66

Apple II (1977): One of the first successful personal computers, the Apple II was designed as a mass-market product, retailing at $1,298, and was the first personal computer to feature colour graphics. Several upgrades for the model followed, and the product line continued until 1993. It was so popular that Jobs' fortune exceeded $100 million by the time he turned 25.

Lisa (1983): Following a visit to Xerox's research centre in Palo Alto, California, Jobs was inspired to build the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface, with icons, windows and a cursor controlled by a mouse. It was the foundation for today's computer interfaces, but the Lisa, which cost a whopping $9,995, was too expensive to be a commercial success.

Macintosh (1984): The Macintosh was heralded by an epic advert shown during the Super Bowl, directed by Ridley Scott, which referenced George Orwell's 1984. Like the Lisa, the Mac had a graphical user interface, but it was faster and at $2,495, a quarter of the price. People soon realised its potential for desktop publishing.

iMac G3 (1998): In 1985, Jobs and Apple's CEO, John Sculley clashed, leading to his and Wozniak's resignation from the company. When Jobs returned to Apple 11 years later, Apple was struggling. The radical iMac was the first step towards healing the ailing company. It was strikingly designed as a bubble of blue plastic that enclosed the monitor and computer. It went on sale priced at $1,299.

iPod (2001): In 2001, the game well and truly changed when the first iPods went on sale. The first generation of iPod cost $499 (£400), but as Apple updated and modified the winning formula, prices came down. Of course, it wasn't the first digital music player with a hard drive, but it was the first successful one. The iPod's success prepared the way for the iTunes music store and the iPhone.

iTunes (2001): Apple also introduced iTunes in 2001 - a media-playing computer programme, useful for playing and organising music and videos. The music store was added in 2003, with 200,000 songs at 99 cents, or 79p, each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. iTunes is now an integral part of Apple software: the iPhone cannot be used without first 'synching' with the owner's personal iTunes.

iPhone (2007): If the iPod laid the foundations, then the touch-screen iPhone is Apple's towering glory. The world was introduced to 'apps', which made the phone a device not just for making calls but for managing money, storing photos, playing games and browsing the web. Apple is now the world's most profitable maker of phones, and the influence of the iPhone is evident in all smartphones. The current model, the iPhone 4, sells for $749 (£612), and the arrival of the iPhone 5 is eagerly anticipated.

iPad (2010): Dozens of companies, including Apple, had created tablet computers before the iPad, but none caught on. The iPad finally cracked the code, creating a whole new category of computer practically by itself. In the case of the iPad, Jobs, famed for identifying and creating the next big thing, seems to have created a market where none existed. The highest spec iPad currently retails at $699 (£659).

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