Apple ousts Google as top tech brand

The house that Jobs built is so highly valued that it is worth more than Microsoft and Coca-Cola combined

Apple is the most valuable brand in the world, beating out former top brand Google. The house that Jobs built is so highly valued that it is worth more than Microsoft and Coca-Cola combined, according to the 2011 BrandZ Top 100.

Apple's victory ends Google's four-year reign as the world's most popular brand with an 84 percent increase in Apple's value, thanks to products such as the iPad and its nonstop business growth every quarter. Apple, Google, and Microsoft aren't the only consumer technology companies to make the BrandZ Top 100. This year's list is filled with popular tech brands. Is the maker of your favorite piece of technology among the branding elites? Let's take a look.

BrandZ 100 Explained

This is the sixth year for the BrandZ Top 100, released by brand consultancy Millward Brown. The report takes into account each company's financial performance, as well as a database of more than 2 million consumer interviews conducted over the past 13 years with people in 30 countries. That data gets crunched to rank companies in 13 different categories including apparel, technology, beer, cars, luxury items, and so on.

You could easily make an argument for including cell phone carriers, which were not counted as consumer technology brands for this list. AT&T, Vodafone, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and many other global carriers made the BrandZ Top 100.

Top 10 Consumer Technology Brands

Apple (#1 overall)

Apple was able to take the top spot thanks to the iPad, which many critics believe is already taking a bite out of PC sales. Almost every PC manufacturer is working on an iPad challenger and market research firm IDC said in January it expects tablet shipments to reach nearly 71 million units by 2012 (IDC and PCWorld are both owned by International Data Group).

But tablets won't replace PCs just yet, as more than 70 million computers get shipped every three months. Apple also earned its place at the top thanks to its consistent growth in its quarterly earnings reports. The company increased its spot in the BrandZ Top 100 by 84 percent compared to 2010, with a brand value of more than $153 billion, according to the report.

Google (#2 overall)

Google may have lost the top spot, but it's still a valuable brand worth $111 billion, according to the BrandZ Top 100. The search giant's Android smartphone OS recently overtook Nokia's Symbian and Apple's iOS to be the best-selling smartphone platform.

Android isn't winning just because it's found in smartphones from every manufacturer under the sun (although that certainly helps). Android is also becoming more desirable than iOS devices, according to Nielsen.

Microsoft (#5 overall)

The Windows-maker is having success with Windows 7 recently boasting 350 million licenses sold, and hype is already building around Windows 8, expected in 2012.

Microsoft also has a critical success with Windows Phone 7, but consumers have yet to buy into Microsoft's mobile vision. Microsoft is a dominant force in gaming with the Xbox 360, perhaps more so after the recent and badly mismanaged Sony hack.

But all is not rosy for the world's fifth most valuable company. A recent blog post in Forbes points out that Microsoft is stalling financially with little year-over-year growth, its spending a ton of money to keep Bing afloat and the growing popularity of non-Microsoft mobile devices such as the iPad and Android smartphones may eventually threaten Microsoft's crown jewel: Windows. Microsoft's brand is worth $78 billion, according to the BrandZ 100.

Amazon (#14 overall)

Millward Brown doesn't categorize Amazon as a technology company in its report, but considering the popularity of the Kindle e-reader platform, the retailer's recently released Appstore for Android, its online music and video retail business and rumors of an Amazon-branded Android tablet, it's pretty safe to consider Amazon a technology company.

Amazon is also the top retail brand in the world, beating out Top 100 competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target. Amazon's brand value grew by 37 percent compared to 2010 to hit more than $37 billion.

Hewlett-Packard (#18 overall)

HP has a popular line of desktop and laptop computers, which accounts for its place in the Top 100. But the company's brand value also dropped by 11 percent compared to 2010.

HP made a big bet in 2010 by purchasing the ailing Palm, and the company hopes to enter the mobile device market with a revitalized lineup of WebOS tablets and smartphones. WebOS now has a company large enough to bankroll device development.

But the best WebOS can hope for right now is to battle out for third place in the smartphone world against Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and/or Research In Motion's Blackberry. The top two spots in mobile platforms will go to Google's Android and Apple's iOS for the foreseeable future.

Blackberry (#25 overall)

Research In Motion's Blackberry brand lost 20 percent of its value in 2011 compared to the previous year.

Blackberry is still a force to be reckoned with in the enterprise, but its PlayBook tablet is getting mixed reviews.

Baidu (#29 overall)

Google's Chinese language archrival in search may not have a presence in the English-speaking world, but with nearly 500 million potential customers in China alone, who needs the West?

Facebook (#35 overall)

Facebook was the fastest-rising company in the BrandZ 100 compared to 2010, jumping 246 percent to come in at #35 overall, and the number 8 consumer tech brand.

Facebook may be heavily criticized for its privacy policies, but users can't get enough of the social network's Likes, pokes and Farmville crops.

Intel (#58 overall)

Intel's brand may be the gold standard for processing power, but the company is struggling to compete with ARM in tablets and mobile devices.

Recent talk is that Apple might fall into ARM's embrace by 2013. Intel's brand power is worth more than $13 billion, according to the BrandZ 100.

Samsung (#67 overall)

Samsung was the first company out of the gate to compete with Apple in the tablet arena with the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

The Korea-based manufacturer also has a 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab in the works, a sleek, new ultraportable laptop and the company moved quickly in 2010 to produce 3D HDTVs.

Many other consumer technology companies rounded out the bottom of the BrandZ 100, including Nintendo, ebay, and Sony.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Tags market trendsCoca-Colahardware systemsintelFacebookRIM BlackBerryTech industryHPsamsungAppleGoogleconsumer electronicsMicrosoft

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)

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