A media critic at the Columbia School of Journalism claims that Apple’s market cap isn’t an all-time record and that Microsoft’s 1999 record still stands.That’s because no one reporting on the story has adjusted Apple’s market cap for inflation.
“Apple’s $622 billion market cap is a nominal record, which means ‘in name only,’ or alternatively, not really,” Ryan Chittum wrote on The Audit, a Columbia Journalism Review blog. “That’s because it’s a record only if you don’t adjust Microsoft’s 1999 market cap for inflation. Sorry, but you have to adjust any number like this that’s that old for inflation—it’s comparing apples to oranges not to do so.”
Adjusted for inflation, “Microsoft’s peak market cap in 1999 was actually about $856 billion in constant dollars, $235 billion more than Apple’s current market cap,” Chittum writes.
Chittum is taking issue with how journalists reported on the market cap.
“Apple is not the biggest or most valuable company in history—not by a longshot. That’s because the press is overlooking reality for the apparently irresistible pull of a headline that includes ‘Apple’ and ‘record’—pageview gold,” he says.
Of course, Hollywood trade publications constantly note box-office records without adjusting ticket prices for inflation—and you rarely hear media critics talking about that issue.