When companies have more influence than countries

Apple recently hit a market cap of $3 trillion only two years after it crossed the $2 trillion mark. Before that, it had taken more than 40 years to make it to $1 trillion. The company recorded revenue of almost $400 billion last year.

If Apple were a country, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, its revenue would rank it at No. 50 on the list of countries ranked by GDP. While it’d lag the likes of the U.S., France and Egypt, as a country, Apple would produce more wealth than Norway, Portugal or Greece, and only slightly less than Hong Kong, Peru or Israel.

The sheer power of a company like Apple is unlike anything the world has ever seen. It has a rapidly growing footprint in places you might not immediately associate with the iPhone maker, including finance (Apple Card, Apple Pay, and even a high-interest savings account), health and, of course, communications.

It also has a huge storage and processing business in the form of its iCloud products. And don’t forget that it produces high-end TV shows and movies for its Apple TV+ service, and while Apple Music rarely makes headlines these days, it has 88 million subscribers. I’m not even going to bother mentioning the 1.4 billion people who use iPhones.

Those numbers are wild: If the 88 million Apple Music subscribers were to form their own country, it’d be the 17th most populous country in the world.

Apple wields an extraordinary amount of political power over the future of, yes, technology (grumble, grumble), as well as many other aspects of our lives. I genuinely believe that — crazy price tag notwithstanding — by showing off its Vision Pro AR headset, the company has played a huge role in reshaping the entire AR industry.

Facebook’s cultural imperialism

Other companies are extraordinarily powerful as well. With the exception of TikTok, most major social media sites are based in the U.S. and ruled with American sensibilities, such as the country’s fervor around the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech.

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