Apple has topped industry research firm Gartner’s inaugural list of the top-100 largest tech companies in the world, with the iPhone maker miles ahead of its competition.
According to Gartner’s research, Apple earned $US218 billion in IT revenue in 2016, about $US79bn more than the No 2 vendor, Samsung. Google, Microsoft and IBM make up the rest of the top five.
However, just how long Apple can keep its lead remains to be seen, especially as the smartphone market starts to slow down.
Gartner Research vice-president John-David Lovelock said Apple could no longer rely on the iPhone to power its growth.
“Apple sold phones really, really well in 2016 and that’s not going away, but it’s not going to grow any longer,” Mr Lovelock said.
Gartner’s rankings are based on revenue across IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments and of the top five Google has been the only one to show solid growth, with its revenue rising from $US74.9bn in 2015 to $US90.1bn in 2016.
The rest, including Apple, have seen revenue slip during the period.
Apple, Samsung and Google have built their foundations on their ability to successfully tap into the so-called “Nexus of Forces” — mobile, social, cloud and information — that has become the platform for digital business.
Microsoft and IBM are legacy players in this game, having dominated the market in the early days of IT, and Mr Lovelock said that, while both had made missteps, they had managed to survive.
“The ‘Nexus of Forces’ has been the focus of attention for many years. However, the impact of digital business is giving rise to new categories,” Mr Lovelock said.
This shift is likely to see a new crop of companies break into the top five. Amazon, which is 12th on Gartner’s list, has jumped eight rungs from 20th and is one example of how a focus on digital business can deliver growth.
“It’s one of a few companies in the top 20 to move up while others have ceded ground,” Mr Lovelock said.
He added that as enterprises increasingly digitised their products and services the likes of Facebook, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent could become involved in, or even take over, the digital experience.
According to Gartner, by 2021, 20 per cent of all activities an individual engages in will involve at least one of the top seven digital giants. “They effectively become gatekeepers for any business,” Mr Lovelock said. “Any company that wants to connect with consumers will have to consider engaging with one or more of these digital giants.”
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