Is Apple Really the Most Innovative Company?
Yes, Apple is Most Innovative
Two surveys both give Apple the #1 spot: Bloomberg Businessweek and Fast Company
In the Businessweek poll, the magazine asked executives what companies they thought were most innovative. Fast Company polled its broader reader base. To the extent that the surveys accurately reflect expert opinion about innovation, the results have validity.
That's a significant caveat. Opinion polls measure popularity extremely well, but they're notably less accurate for other qualities. Did the respondents confuse innovation with popularity?
No, Apple Is Not Most Innovative
Based on a more objective ranking of the 100 most innovative companies by arguably the leading innovation scholar, Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, Apple only makes it to #5 -- highly respectable but definitely not the top spot. Apple comes behind Salesforce, Amazon.com, Intuitive Surgical and Tencent.
(That last bears repeating. Tencent, a Chinese internet company, is more innovative than Apple. Who says China can't innovate? Not me; I suggested just the opposite at the end of a blog about Japan.)
The ranking, published in Forbes and developed in collaboration with Michael MicConnell of HOLT/Credit Suisse, looked at the issue from an investor's perspective, estimating how much of a stock market premium comes from innovation.
There are some problems with equating stock prices and innovation, problems that are mirrored in the ranking of brands solely based on the same kind of measure. Innovation and profitability are not the same thing.
For entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors looking to generate profits through innovation, Christensen and team have come up with a valuable ranking. But alternative rankings may capture more of the essence of innovation.
The Apple Brand
Speaking of brands, if Apple isn't the top innovator, is Apple at least the top brand? Again, no. According to Interbrand, Apple is the #8 brand. Ahead of it is Coca-Cola at #1, as well as tech companies IBM, Microsoft, Google and Intel.
To summarize, yes, Apple is the most innovative company according to two surveys asking people to name their choice for top innovator. No, Apple is not the leading innovator based on an attempt to quantify innovation based on stock market performance.
What do you think? How should we define innovation, and does Apple come out on top using your definition?
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