Shares in Apple hit the $500 mark for the first time ever at the close of trading on Monday.

The news comes on the back of a record-breaking quarter for the company, in which its net profit more than doubled to $13.06bn.

The company is now worth $460bn, a far cry from 1997 when Apple shares were worth a lowly $3.19 and the company faced bankrupcy.

At the close of trading yesterday Apple stock was worth $502.60 - that's £319.68 - and as Apple Insider reported last week, it is worth more than Google and Microsoft combined.

Central to Apple's efforts to staying ahead of its rivals will be the launch of a third-generation iPad, which is likely to happen within the next month or two, as well as a sixth-generation iPhone and possibly a foray into the smart TV market later this year.

It is also thought that Apple is planning to boost its Mac line-up - which has gone from strength to strength in the UK and European markets despite a general downturn in PC sales - with a completely redesigned MacBook Pro that may launch in the second quarter of this year.