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Microsoft temporarily overtakes Apple as world’s most valuable public company

Microsoft briefly usurped Apple to become the world’s most valuable public company on Thursday. However, the iPhone maker recovered ground to end the session still just ahead.

Apple’s share price dropped by just one percent, enabling Microsoft to narrowly pull ahead of Apple at a value of $US2.87 trillion. Apple narrowed the day’s loss to just 0.32%, resulting in its market cap rising to $US2.89 trillion, while Microsoft eased back a little to close up 0.49% at $US2.86 trillion.

Apple’s lead has been trimmed since late December when doubt was cast on part of its booming iWatch system through a patent decision (now appealed) by the US Federal Trade Commission, and rising regulatory pressures in the US (the Justice Department is reportedly looking at a massive antitrust action involving the way the iPhone and iWatch mesh together).

Europe is a continuing concern, and Apple CEO Tim Cook met the European Commission’s competitor boss, Margrethe Vestager on Thursday.

This has seen the shares retreat from their all-time high hit on December 14 of $US199.62.

Microsoft shares are benefiting from a boom in artificial intelligence and are up 61% in the past year. The shares hit an all-time high of $US382.70 at the end of last November (adjusted for splits, like Apple’s).

Apple hopes to re-engage next month with its new Vision Pro headset system to be released on February 2, the day after it reports what are expected to be average December quarter financials.

Vision Pro prices start at $US3,500, making it a big ask for consumers, especially with current cost-of-living pressures not going away quickly. Apple starts taking orders for the new gizmo on January 19.

The following week will see leaks of the progress of pre-orders if they are good or silence if they are not.