The firm has repeatedly released hit products since producing the first iPod in 2001, followed by the iPhone and iPad this year.

Consumer market

In depth
The cult of apple

It is a huge resurgence for Apple, who almost went bust in the 1990s.

In 1997 it relied on a $150m share investment from Microsoft to help keep it afloat.

Carsten Sorensen, a senior lecturer in information systems and innovation at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera: "At that time Apple was in terrible problems and Microsoft promised to develop Microsoft office further for the Apple platform and that made it much more credible. So that was some sort of bailout as Apple was in dire straits at that time.

"What Microsoft might end up regretting is not paying more attention to the consumer market. Because Apple for a long time seems to have pitched themselves against Sony more than against Microsoft.

"So Microsoft has spent billion of dollars in the enterprise market. Whereas Apple has always almost single handedly aimed either at the high-end professional market of musicians and graphic artists or the ordinary consumer. And that seems to have paid off for them."

Market battle

Apple's PC operating system maket share remains small [Reuters]

Apple, which began its life making the Apple Macintosh computer, last had a higher market value than Microsoft in 1989, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

Microsoft's profits are down 20 per cent from 10 years ago, although its operating system is still used by 90 per cent of the world's personnel computers.

Microsoft remains ahead of Apple in sales, with a reported $14.5bn in revenue in the latest quarter, compared to Apple's $13.5bn.

Sorensen said: "If you ask some analysts they say Microsoft is on their way to a weaker position, but Michael Dell [the founder of Dell computer firm] wrote off Apple many years ago, saying shareholders should wind down the company.

"I think you should always be very careful in writing off these tech companies because nobody knows what is going to happen in the tech industry in the next ten years."