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Here's How Apple Can Reach a $1 Trillion Valuation

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“I sold my stock in Apple back in 1995. If I would have held it longer, I would have been a millionaire!,” exclaims that one guy that we all totally know.

While that guy tends to talk about “what could have been” a little too frequently to be taken seriously, he does have a point here. After decades of consistent growth, interrupted by just a few down periods, Apple (AAPL - Free Report) is the world’s most-valuable publicly-traded company with a market capitalization of nearly $750 million.

Perhaps no company has burned its imagery into the minds of the public better than this technology behemoth. The Cupertino, California-based firm is more than just a brand—it’s an influencer of culture. As Apple goes, so do the masses. Its logo is iconic; its products are timeless.

And investors still want more.

So how can Apple, with its well-established product lines and billions of existing customers, break into uncharted territory? How does the one on top climb higher? How does the biggest get even bigger?

The short answer: by trying something new.

Old Dog, New Tricks

Out of the many new options that Apple has to test out, it seems like the company is taking self-driving cars the most seriously. Last Friday, the iPhone maker received a permit to begin testing self-driving cars in California, and it looks like Apple’s formerly top-secret autonomous vehicle project is finally ready to take the next step (also read: Apple Gets Self-Driving Car Permit: What's at Stake for the Industry?).

However, we are still—at the very least—several years away from an “iCar,” and Apple is likely to meet stiff competition from its industry competitors in this field.

On top of the big-name automakers like Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) , General Motors (GM - Free Report) , Ford (F - Free Report) , and many others working on self-driving cars, tech companies like Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL - Free Report) and Intel (INTC - Free Report) are also working on their own autonomous vehicle projects (also read: Intel Buys Mobileye: Are More Driverless Car Deals in the Future?).

The self-driving car space is sure to be crowded, but a brand like Apple won’t have to worry about name recognition, and if the company’s previous products are any evidence, Apple’s car project will likely result in a sleek, user-friendly, and high-performing vehicle.

Becoming a major player in what could be a world-changing industry, especially one that is still at its infancy like this one, would certainly help Apple gain even more value. Of course, that’s far from the only thing the Tim Cook-led company can do to bring its market cap over $1 trillion.

If the internet—and its vast array of unfounded rumors—were left to decide how Apple can grow, it would want the tech giant to enter the world of media production… by buying Disney (DIS - Free Report) .

Yes, the age-old “Apple should buy Disney” conjecture is alive and well, despite no real evidence pointing towards any merger talks between the two companies.

And while it may be pure fiction, an Apple-Disney merger does speak to something that is currently missing from Apple’s portfolio of products and projects. For all of the snazzy devices that the company makes, it owns very little of what its customers access on those devices.

Sure, Apple Music has grown insanely fast, but Apple has notably not yet entered the world of video streaming or original programming. The Apple TV device is a strong candidate for any cord-cutter, and an Apple-owned over-the-top streaming service has been rumored for years, but buying a media company would immediately bolster Apple’s arsenal if it does want to seriously contend in this space at some point.

Bottom Line

The goal of a publicly-traded company is not to reach new market-cap milestones, break records, or make headlines. In fact, it is quite a bit simpler than that. All public companies, big or small, need to provide value to their shareholders.

This means that reaching a $1 trillion valuation is likely not an explicit goal for Apple right now. Instead, Tim Cook and company are probably plotting on how to effectively deliver the next must-have product, while also continuing to pump out the Apple products we all know and love.

These goals are, of course, intended to help the company grow and provide that desired value for its shareholders.

But an Apple that’s worth $1 trillion is not that far away, and the company has several obvious new routes it can take if it wants to add the nearly $250 million in market cap needed to reach the milestone.

Only time will reveal how Apple intends on continuing its ridiculous growth, but in the meantime, we can continue to speculate. Will Apple become a self-driving car giant, or will it purchase a media company and take the entertainment business by storm? I can’t wait to find out.

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