Google vs. Apple vs. Exxon: A Reminder of Scale

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Exxon's latest financials came in today, and after the last couple weeks of following tech companies' earnings reports, they were a not-so-subtle reminder of the relative scale of the two industries. Here I took the last quarter for each company (Apple, Google, Exxon) and plotted its revenue and net profit.

The margins of the oil business are obviously lower, but look at Exxon's revenue number. Around the world, people handed Exxon nearly $100 billion dollars in a single three-month period. Apple would have to sell 184 million of the cheapest iPad to hit Exxon's number.

(Side note: Excel 2008 is driving me nuts. Why did they make it so hard to label the axes? Why do attempts to make spreadsheet software easier to work with always result in greater complexity?)

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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