Analyst: Apple Will Be Bigger than IBM, HP in Two Years

Apple is going to be a bigger company than IBM next year, and it will grow enough to be bigger than HP a year after that, according to George Colony, the founder of Forrester Research. In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Colony said that Apple’s mobile empire could fuel growth of 50% per year for the next two years, and said that, “they’re going to be a $200 billion revenue company.”

Longtime Apple watches will already know that Apple is the largest tech company in the world by market capitalization, which makes Apple a $317.8 billion company. Indeed, this makes Apple the second most valuable company of any classification, behind only #1 Exxon Mobil.

HP and IBM , however, both do more in sales (much of Apple’s stock price/market cap is fueled by the company’s potential, not its realized sales). IBM turned in $99.9 billion in sales in 2010, while HP turned in sales of $126 billion. Apple’s sales in 2010 were $63.5 billion, representing 52% growth over 2009.

Mr. Colony believes that Apple is going to continue growing at a rapid pace, and already the company’s off to a good start with $26.74 billion in revenue during the December quarter, the company’s first fiscal quarter. The Forrester founder said that Apple will turn in sales of $100.3 billion for the full fiscal year, representing 54% growth over 2010.

In MY day….

Fueling all this growth is Apple’s app ecosystem, which Mr. Colony sees as a virtuous circle that propels new sales of Apple’s mobile devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad), which in turn fuels growth of the app ecosystem.

He also said that this represents a sea change of sorts, and one that de-emphasizes the traditional Web. To that end, he said that companies like Google that are “too Web-centric,” adding that being too Web-centric is going to lead to trouble for those companies that can’t change.

Steve Jobs

On a cautionary note, Mr. Colony said that Steve Jobs has been a big part of Apple’s product cycle. He believes Apple’s product pipeline has already been developed enough to provide new products for three-to-four years after Mr. Jobs leaves.

That’s a speculative thought, however, as no one knows when Mr. Jobs might leave as the CEO battles health issues. Implicit in the comment on Apple’s product pipeline is that Mr. Jobs would leave his company in the near future.

Be that as it may, and whenever Mr. Jobs steps down from Apple, Mr. Colony said that his departure will make for a tough transition for Apple.

“Remember, every two years they have to fill [its fleet of Apple Stores] with new stuff,” he said. “Without Steve Jobs as the CEO, I think it will be much harder for them to do that. That would be a massive, massive hit to the valuation.”

Apple shares closed higher Thursday, ending the day at $344.97, up $5.78 (+1.70%), on moderate volume of 14.4 million shares trading hands.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.