Apple and its $18 billion phone mountain

Stephen Pritchard

Inside the Enterprise: Back in 1997, Microsoft invested $150 million (100 million) in Apple. Then, the maker of Macintosh computers was struggling. Rightly or wrongly, commentators said that the investment had saved Apple.

It certainly marked a turning point in the relationship between the two companies. And within three years, Apple was worth more than its erstwhile benefactor on the stock market.

Since then, Apple has continued to grow. The company is now worth $700 billion or so, making it the largest company in the world. It has made the most profits ever, in a quarter, at $18bn (11.8 billion). It has $142 billion in cash, even after its borrowings. By any measure, Apple is incredibly wealthy.

But Apple has also changed over the last few years. The company is now, in financial terms at least, a smartphone company, even as Mac sales are on the increase too. In the last quarter, Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones, and became the number one smartphone manufacturer in China.