Fast Company

Most Innovative Companies - Technology

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Technology

1. Facebook

Now available in 70 languages and every country, the 400-million-user strong King of Social Media has managed a balance between insane growth and staying true to its core identity. Zuckerberg's relentless embrace of his founding hacker philosophy encourages Facebook engineers to "break things in order to make them better" and allows them to change products and introduce new services as often as some users change profile pics. Top 50: No. 1

2. Amazon

So many bright spots: the Kindle and its App Store, the Zappos acquisition, company stock up 176%. But perhaps Amazon's most amazing performance came between Thanksgiving and December 23, when the online retailer logged sales for an astounding 2.8 million items, a company record of 32 items per second (even with a December 6 snafu that hobbled the site). By accelerating its order processing, it was able to guarantee Christmas delivery on orders made on December 20 without upgrades to one- or two-day delivery. Top 50: No. 2

3. Google

Does Google Buzz have a chance against Facebook and Twitter? The search giant certainly has a way of striking fear into competitors. Yet even after an amazing 2009 ($23.6 billion in revenues, stock up 106%), its attempt to take a significant stake in social media looks misguided. While the tie-in to the company's Gmail service and integration of Twitter streams are positives, the inability to publish Twitter messages from Buzz and the solidly entrenched position of Facebook are serious impediments to success. Still, you have to admire Google's chutzpah. Top 50: No. 2

4. Apple

The company has reimagined the worlds of computing, music, and mobile phones. Now the iPad threatens to do the same to publishing. Nothing new there.... Sometimes Apple's triumphs can start to feel repetitive, but they can't be ignored. Top 50: No. 2

5. Huawei Technologies

Last year Huawei became the world's top patent seeker and topped the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) list. Its revenues rose 17.5% to $21.5 billion, more than half of which came from outside China. After the company leapfrogged Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens to become the second-largest manufacturer of telecom equipment, No. 1 Ericsson is no doubt feeling Huawei's ravenous breath at its back. Top 50 No. 5

6. HP

In a world evolving away from printed matter, HP has managed to get in step with technology trends and make smart, even prescient decisions. Once reliant on printers and toner, it has surpassed Dell as the top PC seller, put tremendous emphasis on design, and made some bold acquisitions (3Com for $2.7 billion and EDS for $13 billion). If it could just get its Halo teleconferencing product on a hit show -- Halo was developed before TelePresence -- maybe that would give HP the pop it needs to take on Cisco. Top 50 No. 10

7. Intel

If you're looking for an adjective for the world's largest chip maker, ubiquitous is a pretty good fit. From windmills to vehicle entertainment systems, from ATMs to medical systems, Intel is everywhere circuits are integrated. Then there's its global reach: More than 75% of Intel's business comes from places like Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, and China. Intel Inside, indeed. Top 50 No. 14

8. Cisco

No longer content to be a plumber, Cisco is focusing on the network as the basis for innovation and the conduit for collaboration. Last November, Cisco introduced 61 new technologies to service what it calls a $34 billion collaboration market. The move clearly signaled its intent to compete with the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Top 50 No. 17

9. IBM

The company's visually arresting "Smarter Planet" campaign was a welcome return to the days when legendary designer Paul Rand made people stop and take notice of Big Blue. The ads also serve as a picture book of where IBM sees itself in the future. During his tenure, CEO Sam Palmisano has reportedly spent $50 on acquisitions and R&D to focus the company on bringing efficiency to the grid. "We can solve congestion and pollution," he says. "We can make the grids more efficient. And quite honestly, it creates a big business opportunity." Top 50 No. 18

10. Microsoft

Sure, Bing was the word last year in Redmond. But the company also had some less sexy releases that will continue to drive profits at the software giant, including Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Office 10. And Microsoft will be bringing sexy back. Its hotly anticipated full-body-recognition gaming system for Xbox 360, Project Natal, is sure to get the blood flowing. According to Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg, "The technology knows who you are." Top 50 No. 48

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