NEW YORK: Apple is now the most valuable brand in the world, having benefited from its strong innovation programme and string of hit products, a report has argued.

Brand Finance, the consultancy, has just released provisional results from its latest annual ranking of the intangible assets boasting the highest net worth across the globe.

Apple claimed first position on $70.6bn, the highest figure recorded in any of Brand Finance's regular studies since launch in 2007, having established itself as the "pre-eminent consumer tech brand".

More specifically, Apple was praised for the success of the iPad2, iPhone4 and Mountain Lion operating system. As a result, it rose from eighth place last year, when it posted $29.5bn.

"Companies like Apple are built on strong Intellectual Property and are the engine for growth in a new era," said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance Inc. "Apple is a great example of how IP can be used to leverage high profits."

"Apple is the classic American corporation that was once the alternative quirky brand for designers and creatives. Now their products are accepted by major corporations and are used by the mainstream corporate industry."

Google, the online giant, fell from first position despite the fact its valuation climbed from $44.3bn to $47.5bn year on year, as the company continues to expand its online and mobile capabilities.

Microsoft, the IT group, also logged an increase, having seen its net worth pegged at $45.8bn for 2012, measured against $42.8bn in the previous research round.

IBM, the business services firm, also hit $39.1bn in the latest piece of analysis, compared with the figure of $36.2bn it secured in the last such study.

Amazon, the ecommerce site, completed the top five on $27.7bn, benefiting both from the growth of online retail and its own diversification, covering everything from video streaming to tablets.

The valuations featured in Brand Finance's study were based on the "royalty rate" method, which estimates the amount that would be payable for using a brand name if it was owned by a third party.

Data sourced from Brand Finance; additional content by Warc staff