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Google briefly became the world’s second-largest technology company by market value today, hitting $249.5 billion and passing Microsoft at $247.8 billion.

But it’s still less than half Apple’s capitalization at $627 billion.

Google’s stock dipped a bit in later trading today, and as of 9:39 a.m. Pacific time, the search and advertising giant is worth just a little less than Microsoft. But the overall trend is very clear: Google is up over 18 percent in the past six months, while Microsoft is down just over 8 percent.

Above: Google vs Microsoft.

Image Credit: Google Finance

Google continues to win in web search, with an almost 70 percent search market share, with Microsoft’s Bing search engine making only modest moves to increase its share. Google’s mobile story is strong as well, with 68 percent of smartphone buyers in the U.S. choosing phones running its Android operating system.

Perhaps surprisingly, social is also doing well for Google, with increased traffic to Google+, and — perhaps more importantly — the world’s biggest social network continuing to put its stock-market palm directly on its face.

One fly in the ointment is the loss of mapping and location data from iOS, as Apple has replaced Google Maps with its own program. But Apple’s woes in that area more than compensate (even if Apple’s Maps isn’t as bad as the press has made them out to be.)

The real story here is Google versus Apple, and whether tiny profits hundreds of times per day per user will eventually prove to be more lucrative than large profits several times per year per user. Google, of course, profits by organizing information at scale, making it accessible, and matching it with advertising. Apple profits by creating lust-worthy customer experiences with tightly woven hardware, software, and services.

Both want to own the user: Google with services that are too valuable to lose, and Apple with experiences that are too excellent to switch.

The best part of this story?

We’ve all got front-row seats to the clash of the titans.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

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