International Business Machines (IBM) has edged past old rival Microsoft Corp in market value for the first time since April 1996.

The trend marks another setback for Microsoft, which has failed to convince investors that it can control the future of technology as it did in the past. Its share price is also languishing over the past decade.

Apple's market value stood at $309.2 billion on Monday, IBM's at $203.8 billion and Microsoft's at $203.7 billion.

Microsoft is now the third-largest U.S. tech company by market value, after a growing Apple Inc raced past last year to take first place. Despite doubled sales and profit in the last 10 years, Microsoft's stock has remained hindered, leading to criticism of CEO Steve Ballmer's 11 years of control over the company.

Although the company dominates the segment of operating system (OS), it has lost out to Google Inc., in the new market for Internet advertising and to Apple in smartphones and tablet computing. The company is now struggling to make an imprint on the popular web in the way of Facebook or Twitter did.

IBM is now ranked fourth in terms of market value in the United States, behind oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp at $397.4 billion, Apple, and industrial and finance corporation General Electric Co at $205.6 billion. The compnay’s shares ended at 1.1 per cent at $168.26 while Microsoft's shares fell 1.3 per cent to $24.17.