Today, Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) market cap reached $500 billion which is a record high for the already most valuable company in the world. However, Apple is not the first to have crossed $500B. Exxon (XOM), Cisco (CSCO), Microsoft (MSFT) and GE have done it before. Exxon reached that mark back in 2007 with rising oil prices. Cisco, Microsoft and GE all reached this mark back in 1999 during the tech bubble. Microsoft went on to have their market cap reach $600 billion before it plumped to its current $267 billion.

The interesting and hard to believe part is Apple currently is worth more than the GDP of Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. Last month Apple reported the second most profitable quarter in US history with sales rising 73%. This company obviously is going fast and some would say that it isn’t over yet. It was only January 25th of this year that Apple hit $400 billion market cap. In only about a month they were able to raise it another $100 billion.

Even though Apple’s stock is around $550, it is still relatively cheap because it has stayed in line with earnings. The share price could go up further after the company unveils the iPad 3 on March 7th. Apple has grown so fast in such a short amount of time, yet I believe there is still much room for them to grow. For one thing, the iPad dominates the crowdedt tablet marke which could expand its dominance further with the new iPad. Next, the iPhone dominates the mobile phone market and a new iPhone is due out later this year. If you haven’t caught on to the pattern, Apple dominates all its markets and continues to push competitors away with every new unveiling of an updated product.

Aside from Apple’s standard products, there are rumors that the company is expanding past handheld technologies and could be moving into the TV business. Although these are just rumors, there is a lot of interesting movement making analysts believe that something big could be coming to Apple, something that is not your average Apple. Apple CEO, Tim Cook further stirred the speculation pot when he said to his first conference with investors that Apple has big plans this year that will “blow you away”. Now everyone is scrambling to get Apple shares. Hedge funds have been buying the company hand over fist since the beginning of the year and it doesn’t appear that they will change.

Apple has big things coming its way in 2012. Is it safe to expect $600 billion or higher in market cap this year? It remains to be seen but if they deliver products that live up to their hype, you could be staring down the barrel of an even higher market cap.