I usually reserve the tongue-in-cheek blog posts for Fridays.  Most people are usually doing interesting things on Friday;  generally reducing the amount of people who read our attempts at wit.  As it is, tomorrow looks to be pretty busy here at Altair, so this week’s post arrives on a Thursday.  I apologize in advance.

Today’s theme:  Big Things that are Smaller than Apple.

Apple’s market capitalization has now surpassed 1/2 trillion USD.  Arguably, that’s pretty large.  What follows is a list we’ve compiled of things smaller than this tech juggernaut.

  • The Gross Domestic Products of: Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan.  Upon hearing the news (honestly), Poland felt the need to respond by stating that GDP is only a measure of one year’s production.  That said, the country of Poland is actually worth more than Apple (I guess they used some kind of NPV calculation or discounted cash flow model).  So… “Take that” Apple.
  • Worldwide lottery sales
  • The entire US retail sector’s market cap
  • The value of all NFL franchises combined, then multiplied by 10
  • All the gold at the New York Fed (which happens to be the world’s largest holder of gold)
  • The entire US bank bailout multiplied by 1.25
  • The entire US meat industry
  • The total revenues of the global mobile phone market
  • 2010 US corporate tax receipts, multiplied by 2.5
  • The combined cost of the Space Shuttle Program plus the Apollo space program
  • Every home in Atlanta, GA…  combined

Yet, despite its size, there are still a handful of things larger than Apple:

  • Political rhetoric
  • Central bank hubris
  • Poland’s self-image
  • The monthly number of high frequency trading “orders” that are withdrawn without being executed
  • 6 months of US deficit spending
  • The number of Republican primary debates held in 2011-2012

Who knows, by next week Apple may be bigger than those.

While compiling a list like this, I can’t help but get nostalgic for the past decade.  Names like Cisco Systems and Applied Materials were the objects of similar comparison.  For the 200+ hedge funds now holding Apple, it’s been a great 2012-to-date.  Let’s hope that the story ends differently this time than it did last decade.