Apple was appointed the world's highest-valued brand today by Brand Finance, which said the Cupertino, Calif. company's brand is worth nearly $105 billion.
In Brand Finance's annual report, Apple retained the first-place value spot by boosting its brand's dollar equivalent by 20% year-over-year.
Second-place Samsung, however, surged in value by 34% to end last year at almost $79 billion, another indication of its hard-charging marketing that has made it the world's largest maker of smartphones -- it accounted for 31% of all shipments in 2013 -- as well as a power in other markets, including tablets.
Samsung narrowed the gap between it and Apple by about $2.5 billion in the most recent calculation.
Google, Microsoft and Verizon rounded out the top five brands, with end-of-2013 valuations of $69 billion, $63 billion and $53 billion, respectively. Their year-over-year increases were 32%, 38% and 74%.
"Apple's dominance is being challenged by Samsung," said Brand Finance in a statement Tuesday. "The Korean giant's improving reputation for reliability, a faster pace of innovation and wider range of devices are among many factors that have seen its brand value increase this year.
Brand Finance calculates brand value with a complicated methodology that determines the value a company would be willing to pay to license its brand as if it didn't own it.
Apple was named the world's most valuable brand by the U.K.-based consultancy for the third year running.
"Apple has a powerful brand, rated AAA [but] what sets it apart is its ability to monetize that brand," Brand Finance said. "For example, though tablets were in use before the iPad, it was the application of the Apple brand to the concept that captured the public imagination and allowed it to take off as a commercial reality."
Other notable technology brands in the top 30 included Amazon (No. 8), IBM (No. 10), China Mobile (No. 13), and Intel (No. 29). Brand Finance also listed Facebook at No. 122 and Xbox, Microsoft's game console, as a separate brand at No. 189. If Brand Finance has tucked Xbox inside Microsoft, the latter would have edged out Google for third place.
Nokia, the Finnish firm whose handset business will be handed to Microsoft as soon as the $7.4 billion deal is approved by more governments' regulators, was squeezed out of the Top 500 entirely. "After years of slow decline. Nokia has continued to hemorrhage brand value as a result of its inability to effectively counter the challenge [from] Apple and Samsung," said Brand Finance.
Earlier this year, industry research firm Forrester pegged Microsoft as the top brand after surveying 4,500 U.S. adults. Forrester's results were not based on dollar value, however, but rather brand strength among consumers. Apple came in second in Forrester's calculation, while Samsung took the fourth spot.
Brand Finance's top 500 can be found on its website.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.