By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
July 23, 2010

But four years ago Microsoft’s quarterly revenue was 2.7 times Apple’s. Now it’s 2.2% larger.

When Apple (AAPL) reported quarterly revenue of $15.7 billion on Tuesday, there was a lot of speculation that this would be the quarter that it finally overtook its long-time rival.

But it was not to be — at least not yet. Microsoft (MSFT) reported its fourth quarter earnings after the markets closed on Thursday and it easily topped the Street’s expectations.

Bottom line: Earnings of $0.51 on record sales of $16.04 billion, up 22% year over year.

But Steve Ballmer’s lead over Steve Jobs’ lead may not last long. Four years ago, his quarterly revenue was 2.7 times larger than Jobs’. Today, it’s only 2.2% bigger and Jobs’ iPad just provided Apple with a whole new revenue stream. For the quarter that ends in September, Cupertino is forecasting sales of $18 billion.

Meanwhile, Apple’s market capitalization, which overtook Microsoft’s in May, continues to outpace Redmond’s. The total value of its shares now stands at $235.7 billion, compared with Microsoft’s $226.46 billion.

See five-year charts below the fold.

Market cap:

Relative price history:

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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