Apple lost its aura of infallibility in 2012. The introduction of Apple Maps, an app meant to replace Google's as the default way-finding technology on iPhones, was a disaster. In a late September letter to customers, CEO Tim Cook apologized for the problems. Ping, the music social network that Apple unveiled in 2010, was shut down. An increasingly vocal number of designers began questioning the tacky faux-leather and wood look that appears in so many of the company's flagship software products. And negative press about conditions at Apple's manufacturing facilities in China continues to dog the company--even though conditions there are likely better than most in the region, and a shocking first-person account broadcast on This American Life turned out to be partly fabricated.
Yet Apple remains the dominant innovator in the technology space. The iPhone reaps 48.1% of the U.S. smartphone market and the iPad is still the most wanted gadget. The iTunes Store is a bullet train for new ideas in the form of downloadable apps, and the platform on which several other Most Innovative Companies are spawned (such as Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook). While some critics say Siri has not lived up to her potential, she's been successful enough that competitors Amazon and Google snapped up rival voice-command technologies. And the company's stock price is soaring not just because of its billions of dollars in profits--the most valuable company in the world depending on the day--but in recognition that it might still have a pipeline of good-as-magic products in store.
And that's why Apple, which has been ranked among our top five Most Innovative Companies for the past five years, leads our list of Most Innovative All Stars.
The Great Tech War Of 2012
Everyone reading this article is a customer of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google, and most probably count on all four. The coming years will be fascinating to watch because this is a competition that might reinvent our daily lives even more than the four have changed our habits in the past decade. And that, dear reader, is why you need a program guide to the battle ahead.
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