Apple Tops Google as World's Most Valuable Brand: Report

Apple has topped Google as the world's most valuable brand, according to an annual survey by research agency Millward Brown.

Apple has toppled Google as the world's most valuable brand, according to a new study.

Research agency Millward Brown's sixth annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study calculates a particular brand's value via a three-step valuation process. According to a report accompanying the study, the firm isolates the percentage of company earnings "generated by each business that carries the brand," in order to calculate the value a particular brand adds to a business.

Then, the firm calculates how much the brand's "close bond" with consumers influences those earnings. "Only a portion of these earnings can be considered as driven by brand equity," the report states. "This is the -brand contribution,' the measure that describes the degree to which brand plays a role in generating earnings." In theory, this method "guarantees that the Brand Contribution is rooted in real-life customer perceptions and behavior, not spurious -expert opinion.'"

That step completed, "the growth potential of these branded earnings" is then taken into account, using both financial projections and consumer data.

Based on those multistep calculations, Apple topped the list with a "brand value" of $153.2 billion, followed by Google with $111.4 billion and IBM with $100.8 billion. Microsoft, with a brand value of $78.2 billion, found itself squeezed in fifth place between McDonalds ($81 billion) and Coca-Cola ($73.7 billion). Apple's current ranking represents an 84-percent uptick in brand value since Millward Brown's last survey.

Facebook also appeared on the list, with a brand value of $19.1 billion-somewhat more conservative than the $50 billion valuation reportedly attached to the social-networking company by Goldman Sachs and investment firm Digital Sky Technologies.

Whether you subscribe to Millward Brown's valuation, Apple certainly has proven successful in terms of straight-up earnings. For the fiscal 2011 second quarter ended March 26, the company reported revenues of $24.67 billion and a net profit of $5.99 billion. That represents a significant rise from the year-ago quarter, when the company logged revenues of $13.50 billion and a quarterly profit of $3.07 billion.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs, a year-over-year increase of 28 percent, and 18.65 million iPhones, good for year-over-year unit growth of 113 percent. Apple also sold 4.7 million iPads during the quarter, which saw the release of the next-generation iPad 2. "We sold every iPad 2 that we could make during the quarter," Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts and media listening to the company's April 20 earnings call, while hinting that the 9.7-inch tablet appeals to both consumers and businesses: "Seventy-five percent of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPad."

Apple finds itself locked in battle with Google on a number of fronts, most notably mobile operating systems, where the fomer's iOS is fighting Android for share of the burgeoning smartphone and tablet markets.