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Apple and IBM Up, Google and Microsoft Down in Brand Ranking

Solution providers know there are few factors as important to business success as having the brands in their portfolios that customers want.

Global brand equity research and advising firm Millward Brown today released its sixth annual list of the Top 100 most valuable global brands, ranked by Millward Brown's estimate of the value of the brand.

The list provides plenty for Microsoft partners to parse. The top line news is Apple coming out on top for the first time. Millward Brown estimates Apple's brand value at $153 billion, up by 84 percent. Apple took MB's top brand title from Google, which had held the top spot for four years and now falls to second place with a 2 percent drop in brand value to $111 billion. IBM fell from second place last year to third place this year, although MB puts Big Blue's brand value 17 percent higher than in 2010 at $101 billion.

Which brings us to Microsoft, which dropped from fourth place last year to fifth, and for the first time trails a non-tech company (McDonald's is No. 4). According to MB, the value of the Microsoft brand rose 2 percent to $78 billion.

To recap Microsoft's journey through the Millward Brown rankings, the first time MB published the list in 2006, Microsoft was the No. 1 brand worldwide.

Trailing Microsoft that year were non-technology companies like GE and Coca-Cola. Google and IBM had a little more than half of Microsoft's brand value -- Apple at $16 billion had about a quarter of Microsoft's BrandZ value at $62 billion. At the time, Microsoft seemed like an unstoppable technology juggernaut.

Microsoft dropped to No. 2 (behind Google) in 2007 and held on to that spot for two more years in 2008 and 2009.

Last year, the list got shaken up to Microsoft's detriment, with IBM and Apple taking second and third place behind Google, pushing Microsoft down to the fourth spot. Now Apple has catapulted to first.

Among other technology vendors on the list:

  • HP is down 11 percent to $35 billion
  • Oracle is up 9 percent to $27 billion
  • SAP is up 7 percent to $26 billion
  • Cisco is down 2 percent to $16 billion
  • Intel is down 2 percent to $14 billion
  • Canon is up 27 percent to $8 billion

Brands behind two of Microsoft's highest-profile recent partnerships got hammered in the 2011 ranking. The BlackBerry brand is down 20 percent to $25 billion and the Nokia brand is down 28 percent to $11 billion. To put Nokia's drop in perspective, BP only fell 27 percent.

Meanwhile, a few massive systems integrators had some movement in the 2011 list. Accenture's brand value rose 5 percent to $15 billion and Infosys' brand value jumped 27 percent to $8 billion.

In all, the news is better for the Microsoft brand than the Harris Interactive report from earlier this month -- and the company's momentum is favorable compared to some of its peers. Everything can change in a couple of years, as the review of Microsoft's fortunes on this one narrow ranking over six years shows. But Microsoft has lost a lot of ground by this measure.

Is customer perception affecting your decisions to carry Microsoft products, or at least to lead with them? Let me know below or at [email protected].

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 09, 2011 at 11:58 AM


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