February 16, 2022
Game-changing innovations are nothing new. From the advent of the wheel to the Printing Press, electric light, transistors and the Internet, history is rife with examples of inventions or processes that changed how we live and work. February 16th marks Innovation Day, which recognizes the role that new knowledge plays in making a country more advanced and serves as an inspiration to young people to pursue a career in technology and innovation.
Last year, Visual Capitalist, an online source for topics that include markets, technology, energy and the global economy, released its ranking of The Most Innovative Companies in 2021. In honor of Innovation Day, let’s take a look at a few of the publicly traded companies that made the list.
It’s unsurprising that Apple Inc. (Tii:AAPL) would rank at the top of the list. After all, Apple’s industry-reshaping innovations may have begun with the iPod, but it continued with iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. Apple also redefined its business models to drive sales and earnings. Case in point, the iPod and iPhone are one-off sales but, when paired with iTunes, became a source for ongoing revenues. The digital platform also helped boost the popularity of the hardware and vice versa. Then there’s AirDrop which enables close-range wireless file transfers, and Apple iOS, which accelerated the movement of mobile devices to become the world’s second most popular mobile operating system. Financially, Apple remains strong. The company posted an all-time revenue record of $123.9 billion for its fiscal 2022 first quarter ended December 25, 2021, an 11% year over year increase.
Coming in at No. 2, Alphabet Inc. (Tii:GOOG) introduced the world to a host of helpful and consumer-friendly products, including Google Translate, Google Maps, Street View and Android, the world’s most widely used mobile operating system. It may be hard to believe that all this came from what was developed as a web page aggregator that became so widely used it became a verb, “Google it.” Another innovation in the works is Waymo, an autonomous driving technology company. Formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, Waymo has agreements to integrate its technology with vehicles produced by several major automakers. Waymo is also working with J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (Tii:JBHT) to develop autonomous transport operations.
Who knew that a platform starting as an online bookstore would turn into the largest e-commerce platform in the world? Also scoring high on Visual Capitalist’s ranking is Amazon.com Inc. (Tii:AMZN), the company that re-wrote the supply chain and logistics guidebook to give us Amazon Prime and its rapid delivery. Some older folks will remember commercials asking consumers to wait 6-8 weeks to deliver mundane items. Amazon Prime members now have a wait time that’s often under 48 hours. The e-commerce giant also introduced the Kindle e-reader, which reinvigorated the e-book marketplace. Further, its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business became a leader in cloud computing. Amazon continues to push the logistics envelope and is developing Prime Air, which looks to provide customers with 30-minute deliveries via drones.
With a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Tesla Inc. (Tii:TSLA) is a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing. More than an automaker, Tesla is a clean energy company whose other innovations include its Powerwall integrated rechargeable battery system that stores solar energy for backup protection. Others include the company’s stronger, more reliable solar roof tiles and the Supercharger network of electric vehicle charging stations. According to Kelley Blue Book, Tesla, which delivered more than 936,000 vehicles in 2021, is now the third most considered luxury auto brand. In this regard, Tesla trails only Lexus and BMW.
It should come as no surprise that these innovative companies are also part of the trillion-dollar club – a group of public companies with market capitalizations exceeding $1 trillion. This proves that if nothing else, the financial markets reward those innovators who disrupt the status quo.