Innovation is most often a subjective determination. Who decides who or what is innovative, and why? Being deemed innovative is often a decision by a person based on experience and knowledge of a particular sector; what is innovative to one person may be old-school to someone else.
However, many people in the IT world seem to generally agree about one thing: Apple is among the most innovative companies on the planet, and this has been verified for nine straight years by the elite consultancy, Boston Consulting Group, which apparently knows this highly valued quality when it sees it.
Another indicator that BCG may be on the right track is that the World Economic Forum also buys this designation and publishes it each year, as it did Oct. 29.
Every year since 2005, the firm surveys some 1,500 senior executives around the globe in order to put together its subjective listing of the world's most innovative companies. Each person questioned is asked to rate the companies in their industry by how innovative they believe they are. Those results are then weighted to reflect three-year shareholder growth, revenue growth and margin growth.
Perhaps the biggest news regarding this list is that Google, with myriad special projects pushing it forward, moved up a notch this year to No. 2, elbowing Samsung into the third position on the list.
The top 10 are as follows:
Three companies were ushered into the top 50 for the first time: SalesForce.com came in at No. 40; Japan's Hitachi was listed at No. 37; and Chinese phone maker Xiaomi jumped in at No. 35.
As for vertical industries, IT companies had the most representation with 21 of the 50. Automobile manufacturing had the biggest drop-off of any industry this year; 14 carmakers made last year's list, with only nine making the cut this year.
Prominent companies that did not make the list included Target, EMC, VMware, Fujitsu, NetApp and Intuit.