If you Google "which is the world's most valuable company?" you won't have to wait long for an answer: it's Google's parent company, Alphabet, which has overtaken Apple with a huge $568bn (£393n) net worth. Alphabet's quarterly profits rose to $21.3bn, crediting its success to increased revenues from YouTube advertising and mobile phones.
Google's chief financial officer Ruth Porat said in a press release that increased advertising revenues within the mobile markets played a major part in the company's success. "Our very strong revenue growth in Q4 reflects the vibrancy of our business, driven by mobile search as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising, all areas in which we've been investing for many years."
Alphabet began a restructuring process in 2015, splitting into two parts: Google, YouTube and related sectors form one branch, while the other is known as "Other Bets" and includes self-driving cars, the quest for eternal life and internet balloons within "moonshots", a veritable conspiracy-theory magnet.
However the mysterious moonshots are thought to have set the company back by an estimated $3.5bn in 2015, so clearly the success of the company is still mostly derived from the search engine. Ronald Josey of JMP Securities told Reuters: "As long as the core business continues to operate well with accelerated revenue...investment in those businesses can continue."
Apple occupied the top spot for four years, having taken over at number one from Exxon, which itself supplanted Microsoft. At one point in 2015 Apple was worth $760bn but its value has fallen away alarmingly as sales of the new iPhone, bad publicity and the loss of Steve Jobs all affected shareholder confidence. Apple and Google were even partners in business for a long time - until Google developed its own android phones and there was a very messy parting of the ways.
Google's own poor publicity recently – most notably in its tax dealings in the UK – do not appear to have affected the company as badly. Recently the company agreed to pay "back taxes" of some £130million in the UK, a figure greeted with some suspicion by politicians.