Apple passed Microsoft yesterday as the most valuable technology company, at least as defined by market capitalization (Microsoft still has a strong lead in both revenue and profits). Apple’s “comeback” is arguably the biggest turnaround in history. This NYT article talks a lot about how this moment signifies the move from PCs to handheld devices, which is partly true, but I think Apple’s momentum and market valuation has been enhanced by the cult following of its customer base.

I admit, I love apple. I love my iPhone and won’t give it up even though I can’t stay connected on phone calls! I love my new iPad, my 2 year old lap top that has lasted far beyond my typical laptop life, my iPod that plays music in the car, and I can’t wait to get my iMac. I get excited for their next thing and I’m beyond a loyal buyer at this point – I’m totally locked in.

But there are masses of people out there who worship Apple. These evangelists, with apple stickers on their cars, are always talking about and showing off all the benefits of Apple products. The single ones are eagerly awaiting the release of a new dating site so that they can find each other more easily. What other company has generated this kind of loyal following?

I’m wondering if Apple’s cult following can be retained now that they are at the top. They’ve lived on the underdog reputation for a while. If the majority of people out there start carrying around Apple devices, people will find more to complain about. Its fun to be the adversary!

I’m still rooting for them, at least until other companies can really compete with their product leadership, but I am a little skeptical about their ability to keep this momentum.

Addition: After posting this, I saw Jim’s latest post: Velcro and the iPad. Case in point!!