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Ascendent Apple's Earnings Surpass Microsoft's Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Apple's Earnings Surpass Microsoft's

Watch out, Microsoft. For the first time in 20 years, Apple's earnings surpassed those of the software giant. The iPad was partly to blame: The tablet cut into demand for laptops, while sales of Windows flagged. Revenue in Microsoft's Windows division fell 4.4 percent, while consumer PC shipments dropped 8 percent, putting the company's net income last quarter at $5.23 billion to Apple's $5.99 billion. "You have to live underneath a rock not to know that the iPad has taken share from the netbook," said Pat Becker, Jr. of Becker Capital Management Inc., which holds Microsoft shares. "It's a problem on the consumer side, and that's a market where Microsoft continues to give up territory to Apple." There is some hope for Microsoft, however. Though it lost ground to Apple in the fight for individual consumers, its overall sales actually rose, largely on the strength of its Office business-productivity software and programs for servers. Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company last May, but the last time Apple's profit was larger than Microsoft's was 1991.

April 29, 2011 9:24 AM