Apple topped Exxon Mobil as the world's most valuable company on Wednesday, but can the company keep up the momentum if the country's economy continues to slip?
It might be difficult, says one market investor.
Stanley Crouch, the chief investment officer for Aegis Capital, thinks that Americans may find those shiny new Apple iPhones less and less essential, if the economy slumps into another recession.
"If you look at what we are going through, you've got a period that no one has ever really experienced," Crouch said. "You can't make assumptions that people will line up to get the next gadget.
"When it comes down to whether I eat or whether I wait in line to buy next wonder product, I'd think people will take sustenance over the gadget."
As unemployment benefits continue to dry up, customers will turn to making sure there is food on the table versus making sure that the family is outfitted with the newest technology.
According to Crouch, it is reviewing what is essential and what is not.
"I would posit (that) in harder times that what we believe was essential becomes less so and becomes more discretionary for more people."
What Should Apple Do with All of Its Money?
Apple has recently set the business world on fire, crushing sales expectations for its iPhones and iPads in the most recent quarter. It announced that it had a stunning $75.2 billion in cash on hand, leading many reporters and bloggers to speculate on what the company might do with all of that money.
There's been speculation it might buy online streaming company Hulu for its ecosystem of video players, and even some rumors that it might buy Barnes & Noble's.
But buying a company just for the sake of utilizing cash on hand isn't the way to go, says Crouch.
Crouch recalled that at one point Cisco Systems Inc. was buying as many as 100 companies a year, and the moves didn't pay off for the networking company.
"How can you do proper due diligence when you are acquiring two to three companies a week, he said. "Now a lot of people are questioning its basis. People are looking at its fundamentals and the market punished it."
Instead Crouch suggests for Apple to offer a dividend to its loyal investors.
'Share your cash flow with your owners," he said. "It could easily afford to pay a 3 to 4 percent dividend."
While Crouch thinks that Apple would be well suited in providing dividends, he's hard pressed to criticize Jobs for any of his decisions.
"I can't argue with Jobs," he said. "He is a legendary figure, in the pantheon of greatness. He is a visionary and incredibly gifted genius in terms of knowledge, but also one of the greatest salesmen that's ever been born."
"He's been able to take a pulse of what will fit the market and position the product and introduce the right product. It's fantastic."
Can Apple Survive Jobs Leaving?
One big question hanging around Apple in its climb to market domination is how the company could handle Steve Jobs' eventual departure from the company. Jobs has had his fair share of illness bouts, including being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004. But he has maintained his spot at the top of Apple, minus a few leave of absences.
In the past the company has seen its stock drop when speculation surrounding Jobs' health ramped up, leading some to suggest the company would suffer if Jobs were to leave.
The key, says Crouch, is to think of it as when and not if Jobs is going to leave. Steve Jobs, like Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet, is a transcendent figure and his decisions carry a lot of weight within the company.
When Jobs eventually leaves Apple it'd be natural for the company to experience a slight dip.
"Any cult of personality that surrounds someone of such magnitude, like a Buffet or a Jobs, anything that alters would have to have some less than positive impact," he said.
"Unless you can start getting Buffet's clock to start ticking backwards or get Jobs to work another 40 years, any change at the top is going to have an effect."