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Four out of five of the top brands in the world are technology brands, according to a review of the top global brands released Tuesday. The report valued the Apple, IBM, Google, and Microsoft brands at a combined half-trillion dollars.

Apple tops the list — compiled by MillwardBrown — of top global brands overall, as well as top technology brands. The Apple brand is valued at a staggering $183 billion. That’s about $500 for every one of the more than 350 million iOS devices sold to date worldwide.

IBM (remember that company?) takes second place with a brand value surpassing $115 billion, and Google takes third at $108 billion. After McDonald’s, the only non-technology company to hit the top five, Microsoft rounds out the top five global brands with a $77 billion valuation. That’s almost half a trillion dollars between the tech giants, and almost $200 billion more than the top four non-technology brands.

Technology companies generally have done well in recent brand rankings. The most interesting data, however, concerns which companies are winning. This year, old-fashioned WalMart outpaced Amazon for the first time in years. Amazon’s brand is worth $34 billion, a nine percent decline from last year; WalMart is $400 million ahead.

And while two years ago Google was the number one global brand, this year it sinks to number three, surpassed again by Apple, and for the first time by IBM. Google lost three percent of its global brand value in the past year, while IBM gained 15 percent.

Microsoft, another technology giant, has traditionally been high in global brand rankings but suffered a two percent drop in the past year. Any significant drops in the coming year will result in Microsoft falling out of the top five, below a surging McDonald’s. In 2012 McDonald’s gained 17 percent in brand value to rank fourth at $95 billion.

Technology winners include Facebook, which gained a huge 74% in global brand value. Facebook was the fastest rising brand among the global 100 leaders, reaching $33 billion. And another technology notable was Baidu, the Chinese search engine which, despite being essentially a single-country service, reached number 25 with a brand valued at $24 billion.

The study highlighted the strategic importance of branding in stark terms: cold hard cash. In a press release accompanying the results, MillwardBrown stated: “While the total return on investment (ROI) for all companies in the S&P500 index was just 2.3%, the BrandZ Portfolio provided a 36.3% ROI, proving that companies with strong brands are able to deliver better value to their shareholders.”

It’s not entirely clear, however, exactly what the brand rankings measure. MillwardBrown looks at publicly available financials, consumer panel data, and consumer research, but details are few. Certainly a core aspect is how a company’s brand affects consumer buying decisions, but more clarity in how brand recognition and general public respect for a brand affect the calculations of monetary value would be appreciated.

Here’s a visual representation of the global brand data: