Apple tops Forbes’ annual list of the world’s most valuable brands for the ninth straight time. The brand of the tech giant is worth $205.5 billion, up 12% over last year and it’s the first time a brand crossed the $200 billion threshold.

Apple again topped Forbes’ annual look at the world’s most valuable brands but for the first time the brand crossed the $200 billion threshold. The brand of the tech giant is worth $205.5 billion, up 12% over last year and this is the ninth time they are first on the ladder.

The world’s 100 most valuable brands in 2019 had a combined value of $3.39 trillion, up 8 percent over the past year.

The list was dominated by US companies, which comprised 56 of the top 100, followed by Germany with 11, France with seven, and Japan with six.

Of course, as expected, tech titans were in lead. Each of the FAANG companies appeared in the top five, except for Netflix, that came 38th on the list.

1. Apple, $205.5 billion
2. Google, $167.7 billion
3. Microsoft, $125.3 billion
4. Amazon, $97 billion
5. Facebook, $88.9 billion

Facebook was the only brand in the top five that had a value drop comparing it to the last year. It fell six percent after a scandal-plagued 2018 that saw founder Mark Zuckerberg face a joint hearing of the Senate judiciary and commerce committees, accused with ‘weaponizing data’.

For Apple, the situation seems better and better each year. Even though iPhone sales are on the decline this year (17% less than the year-ago period), the company’s services revenue keeps hitting new highs. There is $10.9 billion of revenue brought from services in Q1 2019 and it represents a record high and a 19% jump over last year. Morgan Stanley expects this figure to grow to more than $100 billion per year by 2023.

How Does Apple Do It?

Apple has created its own clique with faithful supporters all over the world. However, they are aware that consumers won’t remain loyal to a brand if it fails to deliver the best product or service available. The company consists of constantly growing ecosystem of Apple products ranging from standard hardware (MacBooks and iPhones) to wearables (Apple Watch) and services (Apple Pay, iTunes, etc.).

Even though there is great competition from other phone manufacturers like Samsung or Huawei, Apple seems to successfully migrate users to other, more profitable sectors of its ecosystem. The launch of the Apple TV+ streaming service this fall will continue to push along this migration.

While Apple maintains its spot at the top, Google is closing fast with a value of $167.7 billion, up 23%.

Google has taken the global search engine market with a 92% share over the past 12 months, according to StatCounter (Bing, 2.6%, and Yahoo, 1.9%, are miles behind). Like Apple, Google has used its brand to move into other categories of consumers’ everyday life from email to Web browsing to maps to cloud storage.

It appears as though Google, is quickly closing in on Apple. Just four years ago Apple was twice as valuable as Google. If current trends continue, some analysts think that Google could out value Apple within a few years. Bill Gates’ Microsoft came in third with a value of $125.3 billion that represents 20 percent growth. The software giant was followed by Jeff Bezos’ online shopping empire Amazon in third place with a value of $97 billion representing a staggering 37 per cent rise over the past year.

Biggest Losers – Will It Be Apple?

Finnish telecommunications brand Nokia, a dominant force in the mobile phone market in the early 2000s, has been one of the biggest losers, falling out of the top 100 altogether after claiming 10th spot with a value of $27.4 billion in 2010.

General Electric also saw its ranking slide, from seventh in 2010 with a value of $33.7 billion in 2010 to 16th with a value of $34.3 billion in 2019.

There is, however, a slight possibility that Apple could lose its first spot next year. It will all depend on U.S. – China negotiations.  The U.S.-China trade war could take a big chunk out of Apple’s bottom line if China retaliates by banning its products, according to an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Analyst Rod Hall said in a note to clients that Apple’s earnings could drop by 29% if the company’s products were banned in mainland China

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