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Forbes ranks Salesforce, Amazon over Apple in innovation

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Fri August 5, 2011

Forbes puts Apple at 5th but behind Amazon

Forbes has updated its Most Innovative Companies chart to reveal what it considers the most innovative companies in the world. The ranks buck some expectations and give enterprise-focused Salesforce the top spot where frequent darling of the list, Apple, is at fifth. Amazon, Intuitive Surgical, and QQ creator Tencent all rank higher.

Google ranks seventh. Other more commonly recognized technology companies rank considerably lower, with Nintendo at 20th, Adobe at 54th, HTC at 56th, and Qualcomm at 61st, among others. Microsoft was relatively distant at 86th.

The magazine doesn't directly explain why each company reached its given rank. Its method, however, stressed not just the ability of the companies' CEOs and management to be profitable but how unique and clever their product strategies were. Those whose leaders were more likely to break out of traditional behavior, go beyond their field to find a different approach, and their willingness to experiment.

Amazon has often been considered the pioneer of modern online retail and has more recently been turning itself into a digital media store with not just the Kindle but Instant Video streaming and the Appstore. Few have been directly innovative, but they have shown Amazon can get away from physical goods and even thrive on digital.

Apple's record is largely self-explanatory with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod and their matching content stores. Macs have also played a role in more recent memory by succeeding where others struggle as well as through less traditional designs like the MacBook Air.

Microsoft has had some success with Kinect but, as shown by recent results, hasn't been growing as quickly or succeeding based on new properties. The majority of its revenue is still based on Office and Windows with the Xbox making up the majority of the rest. Windows revenue has been declining slightly in recent months, and most attempts to branch out, such as Windows Phone and Zune, so far haven't panned out.

by MacNN Staff



  1. TomSawyer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Credit where its due...they are the "founding father" of online shopping. BUT for all intents and purposes they are a one-trick-pony by comparison to Apple. Gimme a break.

    Wonder if Amazon shares a board-member with Forbes???

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The company which is derided in cartoons on YouTube, all over the place as being the "darling" of companies who try to short change their salesmen?
    Amazon's biggest claim to fame, like Wal-Mart, is to buy up their competition and put others out of business. They even bought a HUGE diaper company (no joke) because they didn't like the competition! Amazon innovative. Nope. They have no inventory, it's all on consignment. And they are slow pays and drive accountants crazy. Forbes is wrong on these.

  1. t_c

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's really hard...

    ... to put any credence in any of these lists. It's like the 'Hollywood's Best Dressed' list.

    Very subjective, and really, what does it mean?

    Amazon does deserve a little respect with the Kindle, Online presence, etc. but it is minute compared to the hardware and software that keeps coming out of Cupertino.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Anything to get clicks

    They are desperate. When Pamela Anderson/Paris Hilton were in vogue, all the 'news' carriers would prominently display those names. Now they are in the dumpsters, Apple has been dragged up to the plate.

  1. bitwrangler

    Joined: Dec 1969


    lies, damn lies ....

    If you read the article, it's ranked by it's "innovation premium" which is a simple comparison of a companies present value (based on cash flows) vs it's market cap. The difference is this so called "innovation premium" which makes the dubious at best assumption that the delta, the premium assigned by the market, can be completely accounted for by "innovation". It's hard to believe that a publication such as Forbes could publish such a thing. They poo-poo ballot based innovation rankings but yet their implied "scientific" or at least "objective" approach is every bit as bogus. There are lots of factors that can account for the difference in market cap vs whatever metric you use for "real" value, and true, innovation, or perceived innovation is one of them. It's hardly the only one and in many cases (most?) not even the primary/majority one.

    Boo boo boo.

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Dumbest list yet. Forbes looking for more hits and attention!

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not unreasonable

    I don't know (or care) about the methodology of the article (which as bitwrangler pointed out doesn't seem to be really based on "innovation" as we would think about it), but it's perfectly reasonable that Apple is ranked "very, very high but not the best in the world."

    Apple's success is based on a combination of innovation PLUS lots of other attributes, including discipline, focus, awesome supply-line/partner management, etc., etc. While Apple is very innovative (as you'd have to be to be ranked 5th in the world--and ahead of any other manufacturer), I don't even think innovation is their most important success factor.

    Was the original iPod (the device that started it's "recent" meteoric rise "innovative." Well kinda, but it wasn't close to being the first MP3 player. It's success was due to anticipating what consumer's wanted and correctly predicting that people would pay more for a player with much more storage and a better interface.

    From what I know about SalesForce, they are a true "innovator." Their whole business (cloud-based enterprise systems for businesses) didn't exist before they made it their model. So don't poo poo them because you don't like sales people.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Amazon???

    Credit where its due...they are the "founding father" of online shopping. BUT for all intents and purposes they are a one-trick-pony by comparison to Apple. Gimme a break.

    Yeah. Apple's had the iPod. Then the iPhone. And the large iPhone (ipad). And, um, video rentals!

    Oh, wait, what am I talking about. Apple also created a mighty mouse, then replaced it with a magic one. Then it replaced it with an even more magical trackpad. And they took wireless networking to the extreme!

    Or perhaps they're looking at the company on the whole, and not just the parts you know about (which, I'm sure, is a lot more with regards to Apple than in what Amazon does as a business).

    Wonder if Amazon shares a board-member with Forbes???

    Yeah, that's it. If someone isn't bowing to Apple, there must be some conflict of interest going on.

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