The ongoing battle between Google and Apple takes place on a number of fronts — products, marketing, legal, and more. By at least one metric, Google has pulled ahead of its Cupertino competition in the last year: a study from marketing research firm Millward Brown cited Google as the number one most valuable brand in the world 2014. Google managed to unseat Apple from the number one slot; Apple had previously held the top ranking for three years running. Millward Brown's BrandZ study uses a calculation of brand value to determine its rankings — by this metric, Google's 2014 brand value of $158.8 million increased 40 percent over the year before, while Apple's fell 20 percent to $147.8 million.

This comes at a time when public perception of Apple is that the company is resting on its laurels and not innovating at the same pace it has show in the past. At the same time, Google is seen as pushing more unconventional, innovative products forward, even if many of them aren't close to being ready to go on the market. This perception definitely played into Millward Brown's rankings. "Google has been hugely innovative in the last year with Google Glass, investments in artificial intelligence and a multitude of partnerships that see its Android operating system becoming embedded in other goods such as cars," said Millward Brown executive Nick Cooper. "All of this activity sends a very strong signal to consumers about what Google is about and it has coincided with a slowdown at Apple."

While Apple may have slipped out of the top spot, it and Google are still far ahead of the rest of their competitors on the BrandZ list — IBM ranked third with a $107.5 million, while Microsoft and McDonald's rounded out the top five.