The Internet, in an attempt to both say something different about the talked-to-death Apple earnings report and the $110 billion of cash it has on hand and also give readers a visual representation of the massively abstract, resorted many, many comparisons. It's time to judge their efforts. Numbers can only get a reader so far. If we had $110 billion in our checking accounts, that would indeed be an absurd amount of money. But, Apple's not a single human, it's a huge company. And, as we learned on Frontline last night, insane amounts of money slosh around company accounts on a regular basis. But we can thank the bloggers for helping us really understand how successful Apple is, providing illustrative comparisons for our pea-brains.
Not all comparisons are created equal, with some more useful than others. The best comparison gives the reader an understanding of both grandness (or lack thereof) and context. On a style level, we also appreciate a little creativity. After coming across so many of these, we went ahead and rounded up some of our favorites high-school year book superlative style.
The Most Relatable
This prize goes to our neighbor over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal for his post "Apple's Cash Reserves Would Fill 50 Olympic Swimming Pools With Dollar Bills, Y'all" This comparison does a good job depicting the size of Apple's achievements. That is a lot of money! I don't think all my money, even if converted to useless Greek drachmas, would fill a single Olympic sized pool. But it doesn't do much in the contrast department. Maybe Google has 50 swimming pools worth of cash, too? However, this comparison wins the most relatable award, because we feel it is something readers can really get. "Can't you just see Tim Cook breaststroking through cashmoney? I can," writes Madrigal. Not only can we see Cook swimming in all that money, but if we had all that money, this is exactly what we'd do with it.
The Most Frivolous
With all that money Apple could buy up its competition, suggests The Next Web's Robin Wauters. "With over $110 billion in cash, the Cupertino giant could theoretically buy three major rivals and still have change left to go shopping for a new handbag or two," writes Wauters. So this isn't practical in reality for all sorts of anti-trust and monopoly reasons. But, this really drives home how much better Apple is than everyone else. Apple's so powerful it doesn't need to buy up the rest of 'em, but if it wanted to it could. ReadWriteWeb also gets an honorable mention in this category, as it suggested Apple buy just Tmobile. That's not as colossal as every single one of those pesky competitors, but it reaches at the same point.
The Most Ominous
If Apple were a sovereign nation, with an army and a people and an economy, it would be a "Bigger Global Power Than Most Nations," notes The Daily Beast's Zachary Karabell. That a gadget company has that much power sounds quite scary. It's very dystopian novel-esque. As far as usefulness, this comparison does depict the amount of money this one company generates and also puts it in a sort of useful, political context. Though, we're wary of global economy comparisons these days, apparently they're problematic. (See: Is Apple really worth more than Poland?)
The Most Underwhelming
"If Apple's bank account were a stand-alone company, it would be the 37th biggest company in the United States," writes Business Insider. If you think really hard, it's impressive because it's saying that the cash reserves alone are bigger than most U.S. companies. But that takes far too much connecting of the dots. There's nothing grand about the number 37, either. And we're pretty sure there's something grand about $110 billion.
The Least Creative
We get this nugget from Boy Genius Reporter: "Apple is worth more than every single one of its smartphone vendor rivals combined." This one feels a bit obvious, even boring. But it's useful when talking about the tech game. This one says: Apple's winning by a lot! Which is of course true, but then again we already knew that. It kind of just brings us back to where we started, knowing but not understanding.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.