Apple has climbed two places in this year’s Fortune 500 list, a ranking of U.S. companies by revenue. Apple moved from 5th place last year to 3rd this, overtaking both Chevron and new AAPL investor Berkshire Hathaway, though still sitting behind Walmart and Exxon Mobil.
Reading Fortune‘s write-up of Apple, however, you might be forgiven for thinking it had fallen in the ranking rather than climbed …
After more than a decade of solid growth fueled first by the iPod music player and then by the even more popular iPhone, Apple finally appeared to hit a wall. Still the most profitable publicly-traded company in the world, Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus upgrades barely outsold their predecessors after arriving on the market at the end of 2015, while sales of the iPad tablet computer continued to shrink throughout the year.
In April 2015, the Apple Watch arrived to mixed reviews and modest sales. And though debate raged for a bit about the state of Apple’s sales in China amid a slowing economy there — including an unusual August 2015 email from CEO Tim Cook to CNBC host Jim Cramer claiming no summer slowdown — the year ended on a weak note for the company in Asia.
Lately, hopes have turned to the next iPhone upgrade cycle and a push to focus on India, where Apple’s market share remains miniscule.
It seems the only positive comment bar the note on profitability is what Fortune sees as the future prospects of the Apple Car.
Still, even with the growing concerns, Apple’s next big leap came into view in 2015. Dubbed Project Titan and staffed with hordes of former car industry experts, Apple’s effort to leapfrog the automobile market with an electric masterpiece likely won’t reach consumers for a few more years. But when it does, Cook and company could be riding high again.
AT&T was the only other tech company to make the top 10, though General Electric, Verizon, Amazon and HP all make it into the top 20.
Apple, of course, focuses more on profitability than revenue, though the market hasn’t been sure how to react to the new phenomenon of the iPhone experiencing falling sales. I shared my own views in an opinion piece last month.