FastCompany.com recently released their yearly list of the 50 most innovative companies. Topping the list this year are Apple and Twitter; Microsoft lags behind at 37 (although better than last year’s 48) and GE brings up the rear. What makes these companies trenders and trailblazers, super-successful at what they do? A look at those who made this year’s list will tell the tale.
Apple made the very top of this year’s list, and why is no one surprised? By creating products we don’t know how we lived without before and marketing them in a way that makes us realize we simply can’t continue to live without them, Apple continues to blaze the trail of innovation, leaving old timers in the dust. Whether it’s the latest iPhone or iPad, redefining the way people work inside and outside the office, or revolutionizing the way we purchase and access music, Apple is beyond the forefront of tech creativity.
Twitter came in second this year, namely for growing by leaps and bounds in the last five years and totally transforming the way we communicate. In 2006 “tweets” wasn’t a household word yet; in fact, only 9,600 people used the service. A mere four year later, the little bird has over 195 MILLION users worldwide. Who knew you could pack so much into 160 characters or fewer?
Facebook made it to number three on the list; a company that rakes in $1.2 billion in revenue in the first nine months of 2010 has to be doing something right. If you don’t already know, the internet’s top destination in 2010, Facebook, is the creation of the supersmart, superyoung (26) Mark Zuckerberg. By creating the phenomena of social networking, Zuckerberg has blazoned the trail of how we interact with others online. Virtually every business, organization, group, and most individuals have a Facebook account; what does that say?
Compared to these three powerhouses, Microsoft almost seems so yesterday. Coming in at 37 on the list, it made it not for what it created, but rather what it eliminated: the remote control. Its avant-garde hands-free Kinect for the Xbox 360 console uses a variety of sensors to understand voice commands and read facial cues and physical gestures (a punch or a kick, for instance). It then responds accordingly on-screen (with, say, a video-game knockout). With sales of 8 million Kinect consoles, Microsoft continues to stay in the fold.
GE brings up the rear in this year’s top 50, namely for its ecomagination efforts. Focusing on planes, trains, and not automobiles, GE is producing some of the most state-of-the-art transportation software for rail (RailEdge Movement Planner software) and air (GE’s Required Navigation Performance flight-path-management software). It’s not taking decades to reap the benefits of their new green portfolio: GE client Norfolk Southern estimates it’ll earn an additional $200 million to $800 million in productivity annually from its current locomotives and tracks once it rolls out RailEdge over its 21,000 route-mile network.
The most groundbreaking companies the world has ever seen don’t wait to see what others are doing; they see what they want and they go for it. Whether it’s technology that makes our lives more enjoyable or software that makes transportation of people and goods easier, innovation and staying ahead of the curve is what these companies bank their success on.
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