<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By George Anders</p>&#xD; <p>How did Apple Inc. do it? The high-tech company that couldn't do anything right in the mid-1990s has emerged as the world's most valuable company, with a stock-market capitalization of about $342 billion.</p>&#xD; <p>Apple's triumph happened this week amid extreme market turbulence. Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp., which had been number one in stock-market value, tumbled in tandem with falling oil prices. Apple didn't fall as much.</p>&#xD; <p>Stepping back, though, it's clear that Apple's rise to the top reflects its remarkable agility. Apple is dwarfed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in terms of revenue and employee headcount; it lags Exxon Mobil in annual net income. No other big company, however, comes close to Apple's ability to conquer new markets, one after another.</p>&#xD; <p>Just 14 years ago, Apple's business consisted almost entirely of a small and dwindling share of the personal computer market. Today, as Bloomberg's Adam Satariano points out, Apple gets two-thirds of its revenue from iPhones and iPads, two products that didn't exist five years ago. Apple keeps its growth-stock valuation because investors feel confident that the company hasn't run out of big ideas.</p>&#xD; <p>As rapidly as Apple retools its product line, it stays loyal to a few core values. It makes easy-to-use, elegant products. It charges premium prices for them. It has enough faith in its own engineering to leap ahead of what customers already like -- on the belief that it can correctly anticipate what they want next.</p>&#xD; <p>Apple won't always be blunder-free. Every company that becomes a market-cap leader eventually cedes that honor to a newer entrant or a resurgent rival. But Apple's advance should still be seen as a reminder of how much can be accomplished with ingenuity and conviction.</p>&#xD; <p>(George Anders is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)</p> </body> </html>