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Apple briefly reclaims title of world's most valuable company

 Apple offices. [AFP]

Apple on Wednesday briefly reclaimed its berth as the world's biggest company when measured by stock price, taking back the top position for a few hours from Microsoft.

The iPhone juggernaut is on a Wall Street tear following its announcements of AI features at its annual developers conference on Monday.

Apple, which had taken its time to formulate its AI strategy, lost its long-held top spot in January as investors rewarded Microsoft's unabashed rollout of new generative AI products under its CoPilot brand.

For a few hours on Wednesday, Microsoft lost the pole position, but managed to finish the day very narrowly back on top with a valuation of $3.27 trillion. Apple stood at $3.26 trillion.

On Monday, Apple unveiled a new AI platform called Apple Intelligence that will be gradually added to a new version of the iOS 18 operating system.

The technology will only be available on Apple's highest-end hardware, forcing interested customers to pay premium prices to enjoy the AI capabilities.

Analysts, while initially lukewarm, have grown to believe that the iPhone's new powers will motivate the company's 1.5 billion-strong user base to update their phones in order to take advantage of the AI features.

In an interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the company has carefully embraced generative AI, "which has its downsides," but that the ChatGPT-style technology "was never off the table."

"It was always about pursuing it in a thoughtful way," he told the Marques Brownlee podcast on Wednesday.

"We've implemented it in ways that are less likely to create issues" on violating data privacy, he said.

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