Apple tops Microsoft as world's most valuable tech firm

Apple's total share value exceeds rival's for first time ever

Apple passed a major milestone today, becoming the world's largest technology company as measured by the total value of its shares.

Near the close of trading on the Nasdaq exchange, Apple's market capitalization stood at $223 billion, higher than No. 2 Microsoft, which had a market cap of $219.3 billion.

It was the first time that Apple's total share worth climbed above its rival's.

"Apple's market cap just exceeded Microsoft's for the first time ever, making it the world's largest tech company in terms of market cap," said Brian Marshall, an analyst with BroadPoint AmTech. "It's interesting that just seven years ago, the company traded at less than cash."

A company's market cap is equal to its share price times the number of shares outstanding. A year ago, Apple's shares closed at $130.78; today, the company's shares fell in late afternoon trading to $244.13, a one-year increase of 86.7%.

Microsoft's shares, meanwhile, dropped to $24.99 in late trading, off more than a dollar for the day.

Google , a competitor to both Apple and Microsoft, closed the day with a market cap of $152 billion.

Oil giant Exxon Mobil is the U.S.'s largest company, with a market cap of $278.6 billion.

According to BroadPoint's Marshall, both Apple and Microsoft will generate in the neighborhood of $65 billion in revenues during the 2010 calendar year.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

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