But surface appearances can be deceptive. Apple’s annual revenue gives it the GDP of a developed country – a Denmark, a Singapore or a South Africa – and behind the scenes, the goliath is putting that influence to some good use.
GDP is not revenue. As close as we can get between corporate and country accounting GDP equates to profits plus wage bill – the value add of the corporation.
Profits are around $100 billion. So, close enough for our purposes here. An Ethiopia. Or, perhaps more pertinent, a Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is perhaps 500k people, or, pulling out the old, young, lame and halt, housewives, mebbe 250k rich world people out working. Apple is perhaps 250k rich world people out working. That the value add of 250k rich world people working is about the same as the value add of 250k rich world people working seems sensible enough – that’s the definition of being in the rich world, high value add to labour.
Yes, true, I’ve stretched those numbers to make the point. But it is still a proper point. GDP is value add. So, the comparison is GDP to profits plus wage bill for a corporation. Sure, Apple’s big. Very profitable. But it’s still of the order of size of something close to a rich world workforce of about the same size. Just because that’s what the definition of a rich world workforce actually is.
(To be more accurate, Apple is 150k people, I’ve not included their wage bill because I can’t be bothered, Lux is about $88b GDP and so on. So, yes. Apple does add more value than the general population of a rich country. And yet….we do get into the same ballpark this way.)