Apple was once at the top of the world. Actually, the iPhone maker still is, but it's just not as high up as it once was.

That opens up other opportunities for other tech companies to reach for the stars as well, and maybe even overtake Apple at the top spot.

As the week wrapped up before the big storm hit the eastern seaboard, Google was trading with an equity value north of $500 billion. That's just 10 percent shy of Apple's value, and the gap between the two tech companies could thin down further during the year.

Of course, when we say Google, we're really supposed to be talking about Alphabet. And Alphabet had a big 2015.

Last year was when Alphabet, the holding company that Google is now under, was born. Aside from Google, Alphabet also consists of other properties like Calico, Nest, Fiber, Google Ventures and Google Capital. But it's Google,  headed by Sundar Pichai, and its core business of search and advertising that make up a chunk of Alphabet's earnings.

Investors have reason to believe that the grass could be greener on Alphabet's side of the tech fence compared to Apple's. As more and more people around the world snatch up smartphones, the obvious result is a saturated market.

Based on a report from consulting firm International Data Corporation, smartphone sales slowed to 10 percent in 2015. At the same time, reports speculated that Apple cut back orders from suppliers, which leads analysts to believe demand for its latest iPhone has slowed as well.

In 2016, Apple analysts are betting against the Cupertino-based company matching the 230 million iPhones it sold in the last fiscal year. Moreover, in an oversaturated market, price wars between devices may affect Apple's margins on its products, too.

On the other hand, with billions of screens displaying even more advertising than ever before, Alphabet's advertising sales are expected to jump 15 percent more this year. While all of Apple's eggs lay mostly in the iPhone, Alphabet also has a larger spread of possible revenue-generating streams down the line with its self-driving cars and other "moonshot" innovations.

Naturally, investors are working off predictions and tend to be overconfident with technology trends. Reliable as those forecasts may be, we may end up seeing something totally unexpected as the case often is in tech.

Almost 90 percent of what Google makes is in Internet advertising, for example. Should investors suddenly become wary of that, Apple could still keep its top spot as the most valuable company in the world.

Photo: Tsahi Levent-Levi | Flickr

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