Can you name the Top 5 most innovative companies on the planet? Forbes list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies places Apple in the Top 5. That’s good enough to beat Microsoft, Google, Sony, and Adobe. But not good enough to be No. 1. Why?
Hooray! Microsoft Is No. 86
For all their noise about being an innovative company, apparently Microsoft is about the only one that thinks so. Sure, they made the Top 100, slumbering along at No. 86.
Who’s No. 1? Salesforce.com. Who? Yes, Salesforce.com. Those high tech people who love Apple’s iPad so much. Apparently, Apple’s innovations for the Mac, OS X, iPhone, iPod, iPad, not to mention profits and lawsuits, were barely enough to crack the Top 5.
Amazon is No. 2, placing well ahead of Apple and higher than a bunch of companies you’ve never heard of. Monsanto at No. 10? How innovative can you get with fertilizer.
Starbucks at No. 19. Hello? It’s expensive coffee. The genius is getting people to spend that much money on coffee. General Mills came in at No. 31. Who knew that sugar bomb cereal needed to be so innovative. Then again, soap, shampoo, and toothpaste purveyor Colgate-Palmolive ranked higher than Citrix Systems, but lower than L’Oréal.
Why Is Apple No. 5?
After reading the Forbes article a second time, I’m having trouble figuring out why Amazon ranks higher than Apple. It’s an online store. The only thing Amazon has done that’s disruptive in the market place is to kill books and tease FedEx and UPS. Yes, you can buy everything on Amazon, but I’d rather shop at Target. Amazon managed to patent a One-Click purchasing system (which Apple paid Amazon to use). That would be a good patent to challenge.
Other technology giants made the list. Adobe comes in at No. 54. Google is No. 7. Where’s the innovation with the search giant? They stole search from Yahoo! They stole email from Hotmail and Yahoo! They stole ideas from the iPhone for Android OS. Their Google + is a mashup of Twitter and Facebook.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t consider theft as all that innovative. Unless you count Google’s recent public rants about technology competitors ganging up on poor old Google as signs of an innovative imagination.
Why is Apple No. 5 on Forbes’ list?
It may have more to do with how innovation is defined than anything else. Every company on Forbes’ list would describe itself at innovative. Some, like Google, can’t say it with a straight face or a list of facts.
Innovation in the Dictionary:
innovation |ˌinəˈvāSHən| noun
the action or process of innovating.
innovational |-SHənl | adjective
Innovation in the Thesaurus:
change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis, breakthrough; new measures, new methods, modernization, novelty, newness; creativity, originality, ingenuity, inspiration, inventiveness; a shake up.
Innovation in Wikipedia:
The term innovation derives from the Latin word innovatus, which is the noun form of innovare “to renew or change,” stemming from in-“into” + novus-“new”. Although the term is broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas that affect markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention or renovation in that innovation generally signifies a substantial change compared to entirely new or incremental changes.
Haydn Shaughnessy dissects Forbes’ view of innovation with an in-depth critique.
I take issue with the method and the results. Apple’s 21st century history is one that matches the definitions far better than Amazon, which is mostly an online store hitched to FedEx, UPS, and postal services worldwide. Kindle? Please.
Apple as a company stands on many very profitable legs. The Mac (world’s most profitable personal computer line). iPod (most popular portable music device). iPhone (most popular smart phone). iPad (most popular tablet device). Mac software. iTunes music and media stores (world’s largest retailer of music). The iPhone App Store. The list of disruption, ingenuity, inventiveness, and modernization is growing rapidly. Which company examined by Forbes’ has a longer list of innovations? Apple should be the Top 10 List by itself.