Interbrand, a leading brand consulting agency, has released its latest annual report of the world’s most valuable brands. As a sign of our times, the top 6 winners are tech companies. Not surprisingly, for the third consecutive year, Apple took the top spot with Google in second. Apple’s value skyrocketed 43% over last year and is now valued at $170 billion. Google increased 12% to a valuation of $120 billion. The other four top tech companies are Microsoft ($67 billion), IBM ($65 billion), Samsung ($45 billion) and Amazon (up 29% to 38 billion and the first time in made the top ten). Facebook, described as a platform and not a tech company, moved up to number 23 ($22 billion, up 54%).

Interestingly, Apple and Google are also going electron to electron in competing for retail sales. And given the overall goal of tech companies to share in the online retail market, it’s predicted that tracking consumer spending habits online is going to be one of the largest growth areas next year for digital media. The real race is predicted to be between Apple and Google, which alone are the only companies that can effectively scale in both the mobile advertising and mobile device markets. For more on this, see