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Apple overtakes Microsoft as world’s most valuable technology company

Apple — creator of iPods, iPhones, iPads and the Macintosh computer — overtook Microsoft last week to become the world’s most valuable technology company.

At midweek, Apple shares rose 1.8 percent, which gave the company a value of $227.1 billion. Shares of Microsoft declined about 1 percent, giving the company a market capitalization of $226.3 billion. Apple retained the spot at the close, even as both shares declined.

The only American company valued higher is Exxon Mobil, with a market capitalization of $282 billion.

This changing of the technology guard caps one of the most stunning turnarounds in business history. Apple had been given up for dead only a decade ago and Microsoft invested more than $100 million in Apple to counteract anticompetitive concerns. However, the rapidly rising value attached to Apple by investors also heralds a cultural shift: Consumer tastes have overtaken the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology.

“It is the single most important turnaround that I have seen in Silicon Valley,” said Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist who has invested in some of the most successful technology companies.