Since it debuted eight years ago, what kind of wealth has been created by the iPhone?
There are lots of ways to measure this, obviously. The device has refashioned an entire industry and region, and it’s made Apple the most valuable company by market capitalization. But it’s also just made a lot of cash for Apple, which is just sitting in the company’s coffers. As of last month, Apple had $203 billion in cash reserves.
Back in 2012, Atlantic contributing editor Alexis Madrigal looked at how many Olympic swimming pools would hold all of Apple’s cash money. The answer? Fifty-one pools—though that final pool would only be filled up about a fifth of the way.
That was then. Back in April 2012, when Madrigal did his math, the company held $110 billion.
Now, its hoard exceeds $203 billion. By my own count, Apple’s current cash-on-hand hoard would now fill 93 Olympic swimming pools.
To arrive at this number, I adopted Madrigal’s math:
A dollar bill (according to Wolfram Alpha) has a volume of 0.06943 cubic inches. An Olympic-sized swimming pool has a volume of 152,064,000 cubic inches. Divide the pool by the money and you come up with 2,190,177,157 bills needed to fill a swimming pool.
And divide Apple’s $203 billion by that bills-per-pool count and you get 92.6.
There are more serious ways to talk about this number. It exceeds the market capitalization of Disney. CNBC reports that it’s as much as “the total net-worth of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma combined.” And from an investor standpoint, it’s let the company create one of the biggest capital-return programs, ever.
But it’s also just, you know, a lot of money. So as Tim Cook announces promising financial results today, or a 72-inch-wide iPhone, imagine him also doing the backstroke across a pool filled with cash. Because he totally could do that. Ninety-three times. Scrooge McDuck-style.
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