For the first time on Wednesday, Apple Inc.'s market capitalization surpassed that of rival Microsoft Corp.

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Steve Jobs is shown holding the iPad in this file photo. His company, Apple Inc., surpassed rival Microsoft in market capitalization on Wednesday.

Apple shares ended trading on the Nasdaq exchange at $244.11, down $1.11. That gave the phone and computer seller a total market capitalization of $222.4 billion US.

Microsoft shares closed at $25.01, down $1.06, giving the software titan a market cap of $220.6 billion.

That makes Apple the most valuable technology firm in the world and the second-largest publicly traded U.S. company, behind oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. Exxon has a market value of $278.6 billion.

Apple only holds 10 per cent of the global computer market, but the release of the now-ubiquitous iPod in 2001 — followed by the iPhone and recently the iPad — revolutionized the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation and lit a fire under its stock price.

Analysts had been predicting for months that Apple's meteoric rise would see overtake Microsoft in market value, but Wednesday was the first time it actually happened.