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Apple now eighth most valuable brand, up from 17th

updated 11:00 am EST, Mon January 16, 2012

Set to become top computer vendor as well

Interbrand's Best Global Brands of 2011, released today, shows Apple making a jump from 17th to eighth in the list of the world's most valuable brands, with a 58 percent gain in brand value to $33.5 billion. The move was the biggest in the top 100 companies, and saw Apple leapfrog Disney and HP, AppleInsider reports. The upgrading caps a record year for the company that may well see it become (at least temporarily) the number one computer vendor.

Analysts have said for some time that they expected Apple to become the top vendor of PCs by the second half of 2012 (when one includes iPads as computing devices), but record sales of the tablet (with a street consensus of 13.5 million units in the calendar fourth quarter) along with Mac growth may have pushed the company into the top spot ahead of schedule. Despite some minor competition from e-reader and "combo" tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook, holiday sales plus an expected refresh of the iPad in late winter or early spring is expected to propel Apple to the top spot for most if not all of 2012.

Coca-Cola was once again the top brand globally, increasing its value two percent to $71.9 billion. It was followed by IBM with an eight percent increase to $70 billion. Microsoft, still comfortably at the third-highest ranking, was the only top 10 company to see a drop in brand value, losing three percent.

Google managed an impressive 29 percent increase in brand value to come in fourth at $55.3 billion. Apple's eighth-place ranking puts it just below Intel, which gained 10 percent in value at $35.2 billion. All of the top 10 companies were based in the United States.

Notable technology companies outside the top 10 include Nokia, which slide six positions to a 14th-place ranking, losing 15 percent of its brand value (now at $25.07 billion). Sony also lost 13 percent of its brand value, slipping one spot to 35th place with a value of $9.9 billion. Samsung, by contrast, grew its brand 20 percent year-over-year to grab 17th place and a value of $23.43 billion.

Though the iPhone is still the most popular product Apple makes, its computer and tablet business have grown steadily over the past two years in particular, with Apple now shipping nearly as many iPads as HP does personal computers. For comparison, HP shipped just shy of 15 million PCs in the third calendar quarter of 2011, while Apple shipped 11.12 million iPads and nearly five million Macs.

With consensus estimates nearing 14 million iPads and over five million Macs sold by the end of last year, Apple may find itself as the top computer vendor for the first time ever in its history, even including its dominant Apple II era in the late 70s. When iPhone sales are added in to general revenue, the company is expected to break records when it reports its fiscal first quarter earnings on January 24th at 2 p.m. Pacific time. Estimates on iPhone sales range from 25-35 million units, according to a Fortune rundown of analyst and blogger speculation.

Interestingly, Fortune's analysis shows that the AAPL-watching bloggers (who in recent quarters have generally been more accurate than the pros) believe earnings will be nearly $5 billion higher than the consensus Street estimates. Apple CEO Tim Cook took the unusual step in the company's previous conference call of predicting a record-setting quarter, an unusual note of confidence from a company that is well-known for issuing low guidances. [iPad sales chart via Fortune]

by MacNN Staff



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