10 Tech Companies Proving Innovation Isn't Dead

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-04-23 Print this article Print

Innovation is central to the success and continued growth of the technology industry. Without innovation, there would have never been an iPhone or a Kindle Fire HDX, Windows or app stores. Innovation and the ability for companies to go beyond what they know to try something new is what pushes the industry forward and changes how we view and interact with the environment around us. Still, real innovation is somewhat hard to come by in the technology industry. At times when one new company springs up to deliver something truly new and innovative, others will simply follow its lead in the hopes of getting a piece of the business. Few companies have the creative genius to come up with a breakthrough technology, and even fewer have the genius to keep delivering innovative products over the long term. This eWEEK slide show will take a look at some of the companies that have delivered innovative technologies, including some with long track records for innovation. Not all of the following companies are wildly successful yet or have demonstrated that they have what it takes for long-term prosperity. But they are doing something special.

  • 10 Tech Companies Proving Innovation Isn't Dead

    By Don Reisinger
    10 Tech Companies Proving Innovation Isn't Dead
  • Tesla

    Tesla, one of the two companies in this roundup founded by Elon Musk, is easily one of the most advanced and forward-thinking carmakers in the world. The company makes high-end vehicles that run on electricity, and it does so without sacrificing style or convenience. Tesla vehicles are somewhat expensive, but car buyers get what they pay for with the company.
  • SpaceX

    SpaceX, another Elon Musk brainchild, is one of the most important companies in this roundup. SpaceX has successfully developed rockets that can enter space and carry equipment and other important cargo to and from the International Space Station. As NASA's budget gets cut even more, expect SpaceX to play a crucial role in space missions.
  • Amazon

    Amazon's innovation is the result of thinking outside the box. The company earlier this year reported that it's investing in a new way of delivering goods to consumers using drones. Amazon has also been one of the few companies with enough foresight to build out software and services for its hardware line that can actually compete with the likes of Apple and Google. Amazon deserves all the innovation hype it gets.
  • Google

    Google is arguably the most innovative company in the world. Thanks to its billions of dollars in cash, Google has gone well beyond search and advertising and invested heavily in robotics, alternative energy, driverless cars, fiber-optic Internet and so much more. There's no end in sight to Google's innovation.
  • Aereo

    Aereo is the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case with broadcasters over whether the company's service, which allows its customers to tap into over-the-air broadcasts and record them in the cloud without having to buy a cable or satellite subscription, is legal. If Aereo wins that case, the company expects to rapidly expand its service around the United States, and those who come across it will find that it's the most innovative use of over-the-air broadcasts yet.
  • IBM

    IBM might be, at heart, an old school, enterprise-focused company, but it also keep coming up with innovative ideas, including artificial intelligence, supercomputing and the role of the mainframe in cloud computing. The company's Watson invention is one of the most important it's brought to the public in some time, and its work on capturing and analyzing big data to make it actionable in a corporate environment could have a positive effect on the world for decades to come.
  • Nest

    Although Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion recently, the search company is allowing the maker of smart home accessories and energy-saving devices to operate independently. What that means is Nest will be able to innovate beyond its outstanding "learning" thermostat that adapts to the owner's schedule and saves energy. Nest also has a combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarm that works alongside its thermostat and aims at solving some of the issues associated with traditional products. Look for Nest to make a major impact on energy-savings and home automation in the coming years.
  • Corning

    Corning doesn't get the credit it deserves. The company is behind Gorilla Glass technology, and is now focusing its efforts on thin and flexible glass that can still function as a strong, reliable option for smartphone makers. Corning is doing with glass what many thought impossible. And the company deserves some credit for that.
  • Square

    Square has turned the entire mobile-payment business on its head. The company, founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, provides a simple card-swiping device that handles plastic transactions at retail locations. Square also has a register app and is moving into allowing users to transfer cash to family and friends. Square is the most interesting (and innovative) commerce company out there right now, and its tens of billions of dollars in annual processed transactions make that abundantly clear.
  • Vidyo

    Vidyo is one of the smaller companies in this roundup, but it doesn't make the firm any less innovative. The startup has invented a way to heavily compress video transmitted over wireless networks, allowing users to hold video-conferencing with just about any device they desire without quality-of-service issues. Vidyo is being used heavily across the enterprise for video conferencing and has become a real sore spot for Cisco's telepresence initiatives.
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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