For the third year in a row, we asked our survey participants to name the companies they thought were the world’s most innovative. This year, Apple didn’t just top the rankings (as it did the past two years); it increased its lead substantially. The company — which in August 2012 became the most valuable in history, measured by market capitalization — was named by almost 80 percent of respondents as one of the three most innovative companies in the world, up from 70 percent last year. Google held steady at number two; 43 percent of respondents included it among the top three, essentially unchanged from last year.
3M also maintained its position of high regard among respondents. It may not make headlines often, but the company again took third place, capturing the votes of just more than 15 percent of respondents. (See Exhibit F.) Apple’s unchallenged position comes in a year marked by the death of the company’s founder and chairman, Steve Jobs, and by the absence of any truly new product introductions. Although the company’s absolute spending on R&D over the past three years has nearly doubled, to US$2.4 billion, it still spends just 2.2 percent of its sales on its innovation efforts, well below the average of 6.5 percent for the computing and electronics sector. And despite being one of the 2011 industry sales leaders in 2011, with $108 billion in revenue, Apple’s absolute R&D spend ranks only 16th within its industry and 53rd overall within the Global Innovation 1000. In contrast, Apple’s longtime rival Microsoft was the top spender in the software and Internet sector, and was ranked by respondents as the sixth most innovative company.
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