The biggest news on Monday morning is Facebook’s new $500 million round raised from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies (DST), valuing the pre-IPO social network at $50 billion. While those numbers make Facebook worth more than established public companies like eBay, Time Warner and Yahoo, it’s still nowhere near the value of one hot tech company: Apple.
Just $73 billion shy of matching oil company ExxonMobil, Apple’s market cap rose Monday to $302.31 billion. For comparison, Microsoft’s market cap sits at $239.51 billion and Google’s is at $193.28 billion, as of publishing.
While Apple isn’t expected to announce any major new hardware products this year, the high probability of a Verizon iPhone launch this spring is widely expected to be a huge success with consumers and investors alike. Beyond that, the company in 2011 has plans for an OS upgrade for Macs (OS X Lion), a greater offering of cloud services (iTunes music in the cloud) and refreshed product lines (like a second-generation iPad).
The first launch of the new year for Apple will be the Mac App Store, which goes live this Thursday, January 6. Highlighting just how profitable and influential the App Store for iPhone and other iOS devices proved to be, Apple is launching the Mac App Store so that users can have the same easy experience of buying and downloading apps to their personal computers.
Apple is estimated to generate $2 billion in gross revenue from apps alone in 2011, according to Citibank’s US Internet Stock 2011 Playbook. Smartphones have risen to prominence in the last couple years, but they’re only expected to keep selling at incredible rates into the next decade, which will in turn continue to fuel the success of mobile outlets like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.
Basically, even if you don’t share Goldman Sachs’ faith in Facebook’s value, there should be no quibbling over the merit of Apple’s market cap.