Imaginary bean counting: Subjective ranking Apple


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Time once again to shut down Apple and give the money back to the shareholders, because Google is now first and Apple but second on the list of “The 24 most valuable brands in the world.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Philip Speicher.)

Footnote no one will read: These rankings were made up by some consultancy firm you’ve never heard of using methodology just slightly better than casting bones.

In other words, incontrovertible proof.

Brand Finance calculates value as the amount “a company would be willing to pay to license its brand as if it did not own it.”

Asking the musical question “What if fanfiction was made-up numbers instead of made-up adventures?”

A lot of a company’s value is readily quantifiable. But not all of it. For example, this bit taken from Brand Finance’s methodology stood out.

…forecast brand specific revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts and economic growth rates.

Ha, yeaaah. The Macalope would love to see the spreadsheet that calculated the revenue forecast because he’s never read a spreadsheet and laughed out loud uncontrollably before. (OK, once.) Apple’s revenue for the most recent quarter was three times that of Google’s. Is this forecast of revenue over a geologic timescale?

“Once intelligent chimps rule the world, we see Google’s revenue overtaking that of Apple.”

The Macalope doesn’t know how much weight the revenue projection component is given in their calculation, but this is kind of an important point because, as we’ve seen over and over and over again, analysts suck at projections. You only need to look at this piece from 2011 to realize that:

“Windows Phone will beat Android in 2013, analyst explains.”

That, as you may or may not have noticed, did not happen. At least in our timeline. It’s possible the timeline it did happen in might actually be better than this one, but the point is it’s not this one.

So, certainly there’s no margin of error in Brand Finance’s calculation that could account for the 2 percent difference in Google’s and Apple’s scores. These numbers are rock-solid. And grading a company according to the value derived is simply engaging in science rather than a vapid PR exercise by the firm providing the ranking.

While Brand Finance says the grades they assigned each company are derived from the index, there’s apparently a subjective component as well because Apple’s numeric score last year was almost double Google’s but both years Google received an AAA+ grade and Apple an AAA grade. If the Macalope were taking this class, he’d go to the dean.

Ultimately, a 2 percent difference in a subjective measure doesn’t really add up to a hill of bean by-products, let alone actual beans.

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