Apple a top innovator? Whodathunkit?

It may reek of a dog-bites-man news flash. But  for the seventh year in a row Apple has ended up as top dog on the Boston Consulting Group’s executive annual survey of   The Most Innovative Companies 2012: The State of the Art in Leading Industries.

If you guessed Google ended up No. 2 for the sixth year in a row, you’d be correct. Ditto to Microsoft coming in at No. 3, the seventh year the Redmond, Washingon tech giant has made the Top Ten.

BCG, which offers the list free upon registration at its site, laid out in a statement its methodology on how it came up with a finding that will hardly  surprise most iPhone, Mac and iPad converts:

 In a turbulent economic environment, innovation is an important driver of the organic growth necessary to generate sustained, above-average returns. To explore the state of innovation, The Boston Consulting Group has fielded annual innovation surveys since 2004. These surveys of more than 1,500 senior executives allow comparisons over time as well as across regions and industries. They capture executives’ views of their own innovation plans and also their opinions of other companies’ innovation track records.

BCG says the executives it surveyed made their decisions based on a number of factors, including

. . .  relative three-year shareholder returns, revenue growth, and margin growth.

And while Apple’s dominance was perfectly understanding, given its high-profile launch in 2012 of the iPad 4, the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini, BCG’s surveyors found an interesting trend further down the Top Fifty list:

 

The list has its share of well-known technology innovators that have long dominated the top ten. But what makes this year’s list really stand out is the rise of companies in traditional sectors such as the automotive industry and industrial products and processes, along with a shift toward diversified conglomerates that manage a broad portfolio through a centralized point of view on innovation. These companies have honed their capabilities and taken advantage of their brawn and breadth, muscling onto the list as formidable innovators.

 

Patrick May Patrick May (331 Posts)

With more than 30 years on the front line of daily American journalism, I'm currently a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury News, covering Apple and writing people-centric business stories from Silicon Valley.