The rise of Apple (NAS: AAPL) over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal. The tech giant has transformed the way we live and how we do business with the advent of the iPhone, iPad, and various other technologies. If you had purchased Apple 10 years ago today and continued to hold, your shares would have appreciated by a cool 4,082%!

Apple's always-innovative attitude has crushed its competition. Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) has seen its smartphone sales go backwards as consumers have grown weary of its stale designs.  Whether or not Apple products drive margin growth is meaningless -- simply having them is a requirement if you want customers to set foot in the door. Both Verizon (NYS: VZ) and Sprint Nextel have suffered declining margins in the period since they rolled out the iPhone as a handset choice on their networks. Why would these carriers cannibalize their margins like this? Because Apple is that important to driving customers into their stores.

Apple is closing in on its next major accomplishment -- a valuation of half a trillion dollars. As Apple's value and cash pile grow larger by the day I'm forced to ask the question: Does Apple own us? If the following charts are any indication, I'd say there's always the possibility it might:


Sources: Top left: World Bank; Bottom left: Apple Investor Relations; Bottom right: Nielsen; Top right: RetailSails.

Apple is just dominant from start to finish. It doubles up its closest competitor, Tiffany, with regards to sales per square foot while averaging about seven times that of Best Buy. Its iPhone 4S release increased handheld unit sales by 128% over the year-ago period and in just two months closed the gap to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform market share from 39.5% to just 2.4%.

This doesn't even mention that fact that Apple boasts $97.6 billion in cash, more than 135 countries' yearly GDP! To put it another way, Apple has enough cash in its coffers to buy (according to the Motley Fool CAPS Screener) 154 of the 211 publicly traded computer software and services companies. That is pure domination!

Is there an Apple stat that makes your jaw drop? Share it in the comments section below.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He will be getting an iPhone 4S in August when his contract allows him to. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Best Buy, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple and writing covered calls in Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that is priceless and therefore out of Apple's reach.

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