The Most Innovative Companies of 2007

BusinessWeek has just featured the world’s 50 most innovative companies. Apple has topped the list for the 3rd year running, owing its successes to iPod – the icon of design. This shows the importance of design in business innovation.
top 5 innovative companies
Some of the Asian companies that are featured include Japan’s Toyota and Honda, Sony and Nintendo, Korea’s LG and Samsung. It is good to see that Asian car, electronic and home appliance brands have succeeded in the worldwide list of innovative branding.
I think the companies being ranked in the table show a broad range of industry sectors (from technology, medical to manufacturing) and is good. However, I feel that the number of European, Asian and Pacific companies listed is actually mis-represented. It is no surprise to see that most of the companies that are featured in this list are North American companies. Simply because this survey was conducted by 2468 executives, of which 77% are from North America, 12% from Europe and 9% from Asia or the Pacific Region. Therefore, I feel that this may not paint a very accurate or balanced picture of the innovativeness rankings of the different companies from around the world. A periodical like Business Week should know better.

11 Comments
  • drew kora

    May 8, 2007 at 1:31 am Reply

    I’m an Apple fanboy through and through. I love the company and everything it’s done for product design. No doubt at all they are one of the world’s great innovative companies. At the same time, I realize they aren’t infallable, either. Sometimes I wonder if Apple scores so high in these kinds of contests simply because they are so high profile. Apple has that “it” factor of coolness the surrounds iEverything and Steve Jobs and all that.
    I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be #1, I’m just thinking that they aren’t the only one on the list that could fill the #1 spot.

  • Design Translator

    May 8, 2007 at 10:36 am Reply

    I agree, I believe the super high profile and branding has played a triggering part in the voter’s mind. Samsung or even Nintendo could have fit the bill. Thats why I am unhappy there were not enough voters from Europe, Japan or Asia for a more balanced view.
    I shudder to think that this US centric, navel staring view, could be bad for the design industry in the US in the long run. Seeing as the crazy amounts of design graduates that China is producing yearly.

  • Jasper

    May 8, 2007 at 10:55 am Reply

    I agree, it’s not very accurate – they should call it North Americas most Innovative companies.

  • drew kora

    May 8, 2007 at 9:35 pm Reply

    I’m going to go off-topic here, but speaking of Chinese industrial design: have you noticed the multitude of Chinese car manufacturers that are essentially copying designs from germany, Japan, and the US? What’s behind this? Is it copying or is there some sort of sharing/purchasing of designs or ideas? Even though the cars look similar, they don’t appear to have the same underpinnings. DT, if you have any insight in this, maybe it’s a good topic for another blog?
    Back on topic: Nintendo could very well have occupied the top spot this year. Their very simple innovations paired with contemporary design sensibilities have opened up entirely new markets to video gaming. It’s a game system the whole family will use and it’s not an ugly, black monstrous box uglying up the family room.

  • Design Translator

    May 9, 2007 at 9:51 am Reply

    I agree, Apple iPods are like in generation 5 or 6 of their essentially the same but thinner? Where is the innovation? Its just optimizing if you ask me.
    But your are right about Nintendo and how they have innovated and insteading of fighting over the small piece of pie, they have made the pie much BIGGER. Infact social, non-hardcore gaming is HUGE!
    Nintendo continues to rule the handheld gaming with a less powerfull but also very innovative DS Lite.
    Honestly BusinessWeek is pretty biased and are in a real need of some credibility. I have reccomended to them, via Bruce Naussbaum, to hire some designers on staff to write for them, but you think that will happen?
    With regards to china I have taken your advice and will write another blog post on this!

  • PY

    May 9, 2007 at 10:25 am Reply

    As I was discussing this topic with some of my friends from UK and Holland. These were a few things that we discussed about the list:
    1. The so-called innovation seems to be connected with a company’s branding power more than its actual creative power. It does look as if that it is the bigger companies that are deemed as more innovative.
    2. In terms of innovative power, Philips Electronics (Netherlands) – no.38 and Ikea(Sweden)- no 28. are two European companies that are pretty strong.
    For Philips,it actually has the biggest design research center that deals with big companies such as Nike – No.32.( http://www.design.philips.com/About/Design/Section-12826/Index.html) Amongst their global research, they are very strong in medical innovation (http://www.simplicityhub.philips.com/ ). Ikea is also very creative in the way they market Scandinavian furniture and lifestyle goods to make it affordable and appealing to the global mass market.
    Therefore, I feel that the rankings of these two companies have been undermined. I do agree with you DT, that Businessweek is biased in their ratings.

  • drew kora

    May 9, 2007 at 8:41 pm Reply

    PY, your comment about branding power summed it up perfectly. Bottom line, companies like Nintendo are left to the wayside because they have a certain persona attached to them. Nintendo has come light years in company image from where they were a year ago, and yet most people still look at the PSP as thee handheld to have (even though the DS and DSL have outsold every other handheld and console system ever made). I think in another year that will change though…assuming the Wii craze doesn’t wear off.
    And yeah, IKEA is a fantastic innovator. I mean, where else can you get modern furniture so insanely cheap? And where else can I find a king size bed that comes in small enough boxes that I can fit it inside my VW GTI? Their designs, packaging, and even the way their stores are designed are all very cool, so a higher ranking is warranted. Though I have to admit, like Apple they’ve been doing that for awhile. So in the scope of the last year or two they haven’t done all that much in my eyes.
    …sorry for these long posts. This has been an interesting topic. And about the Chinese cars, of course not all chinese cars are like that, but I’ve seen more than a few photos of cars with striking similarities. So, I’m just curious about it.

  • Design Translator

    May 10, 2007 at 9:11 pm Reply

    Hi Drew,
    Hang in there buddy, that post I promise you is up next!
    Sorry I have been really busy preparing for a Design for Brand presentation next week.

  • PY

    May 10, 2007 at 10:11 pm Reply

    Hey Drew,
    I truly agree with the points you have commented on. Like you, I enjoyed this topic too, and writing about it.
    I’m actually an avid reader of Business times.I like some of the topics they write about, but I have to agree with DT about their need of credibility, expecially when it comes to their rankings. They tend to get “US-centric” when it comes to rankings. And DT, I’m so glad to know you wrote to Bruce Naussbaum about this. Whether it will happen or not, I’m so glad you tried.

  • passing by

    May 11, 2007 at 4:34 pm Reply

    Yeah-thanks to IKEA we all have the same looking living room! Thanks to IKEA small furniture designers like myslef have nothing to eat! Yeah-IKEA products last a lifetime! haha.. IKEA quallity is soo good.. but at least it fits into your GT..

  • drew kora

    May 11, 2007 at 11:28 pm Reply

    Way to put me in my place. : (
    i guess that’s the dark side of some innovation. But don’t hate me for buying some stuff form IKEA. Look at it this way: I’m a 20-something young designer without much disposable income. I can’t drop $1500 on a designer chair. IKEA gives me the style I want on a budget. However, I have IKEA furniture that looks like crap after after a year or two, also. So I’m careful about my purchases from them. I also realize that there’s a world of difference between IKEA furniture and something from a more reputable, upscale manufacturer. As I grow older and hopefully progress in my career, I’d like to invest is more unique, quality furnishing made by designers like yourself. So in some ways, IKEA is like a gateway. Just like a VW is/was an entry level german car…from which owners may move on to BMW, Audi, or MB as they get older, have more money, and can discern more quality.
    Anyway, regardless of all that, their methods of easily assembling furniture and shipping it in small boxes is pretty innovative.

Post a Comment