US search engine Google had overtaken rival technology titan Apple as the most valuable brand, global market research agency Millward Brown said yesterday.

Google’s brand value shot up 40 percent in a year to $158.84 billion (R1.6 trillion), the agency said in its 2014 100 Top BrandZ report.

“Google has been extremely innovative this year with Google Glass, investments in artificial intelligence and a range of partnerships,” said Benoit Tranzer , the head of Millward Brown France.

“All these activities send a very strong signal to consumers about the essence of Google.”

Google Glass is internet-linked eyewear for which the firm has joined hands with Luxottica, a frame giant behind Ray-Ban sunglasses and other high-end brands, to sell the new product in the US.

Apple, which held the top position for three consecutive years, saw its brand value fall by 20 percent from a year earlier to $147.88bn.

The top 10 slots were dominated by US firms. IBM was in third place at $107.54bn, a fall of 4 percent, followed by Microsoft, which rose 29 percent to $90.19bn.

Fast food chain McDonald’s ranked next at $85.71bn, followed by Coca Cola ($80.68bn), Millward Brown said.

China led in the insurance sector with Ping An valued at $12.4bn and China Life at $12bn.

French luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton ranked 30th overall but was the top luxury brand with a value of more than $25bn.

Brand value is calculated on the basis of the firms’ financial performance and their standing among consumers. – Sapa-AFP