Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) seems to have an uncanny knack of coming out with one eye-catching headline after another. This time, it seems to have surpassed all expectations by touching an astounding $600 billion in market capitalization. Consider this: On April 12, 2012, just two days after the landmark event, the market capitalization of ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company, stood at $396 billion. What's even more intriguing is the fact that both Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and IBM had a combined market cap of around $494 billion on that day, which was far less than that of Apple's peak valuation. Apparently, this is just the beginning.
Recently, Brian White, an analyst from Topeka Capital Markets, raised eyebrows when he set a $1,001 target stock price for Apple, which translates into a market capitalization of $932 billion. So, does that mean we're possibly looking at a $1 trillion company in the near future? Time to find out how "real" that reality is.
A lot to delve into
Apple still has loads of potential ahead of it. The markets are already abuzz with the supposedly breathtaking future success of the iPhone 5, as well as Apple's foray into new areas such as television sets and mobile-based payments. I haven't even included the iPad here -- which, analysts believe, will continue to dominate the tablet market, at least until 2016.
The Chinese potential
At the same time, Apple still has a lot of room for growth in emerging markets such as China, which is considered a major revenue booster. The company's growth has not been totally satisfactory in China yet, as it lags behind Samsung in what has been one of the most important overseas markets for Apple in recent times. But, all that could change once Apple teams up with the largest mobile operator in China -- China Mobile (NYSE: CHL ) , which has a whopping 655-million-subscriber base.
But, in order to get to China Mobile's subscribers, the iPhone would have to support its TD-SCDMA network, a problem which it aims to solve with the likely inclusion of Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM ) fifth-generation Gobi chipset in the yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5, which would enable it to run on almost any network, whether HSPA+, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA or TD-LTE.
What about competition?
With Apple, the competition has always had a hard time as well. Most developers still find it cumbersome to customize apps for Android-based devices as screen sizes and aspect ratios vary a lot. With Apple, developers have only a couple of screen sizes to cater to, which explains the more than 200,000 applications created for the iPad alone up to now.
And as for Microsoft's line of tablets, Gartner says that less than 5 million Windows-powered media tablets will be sold this year; by 2016, this figure might rise to 44 million, a stark contrast to Apple's estimated sale of 170 million units for the same year.
The Foolish bottom line
Apple seems to be on a high at present, but the important question is whether it will be able to sustain this scorching pace of growth in the face of increased competition from rivals such as Samsung. Only time can tell whether the company's shares will inch up to the $1,001 mark. What do you think?
Apple's market cap may be all set to skyrocket further, but here's a special free report that would show you these three hidden winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android revolution.
Also, don't forget to add Apple to your watchlist. It's free!