Apple Falls from First to 17th Place on Fast Company’s ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ List

Fast Company has released its annual ranking of the world’s 50 most innovative companies, and Apple has dropped back behind both established corporations and fresh startups.

According to Fast Company‘s “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies 2019,” Apple dropped from last year’s top spot all the way to number 17.

“They didn’t really break new ground with their devices, and hardware sales were sluggish,” Fast Company senior editor Amy Farley told CNBC on Wednesday.

Meituan Dianping — a Chinese tech platform “that expedites the booking and delivery of services such as food, hotel stays, and movie tickets” — ranked as number 1 this time around. The rest of the top five included ride-sharing company Grab, the NBA, The Walt Disney Company, and Stitch Fix.

Other companies coming in ahead of the Cupertino company include Square, Twitch, Shopify, Peloton, Alibaba, and Truepic. Apple comes in at spot 17.

On the flip side, Apple is the only smartphone or traditional computer company to have made the list, as companies like Samsung, Huawei, HP, Dell, TSMC, or Qualcomm are anywhere to be found. So in that light, Apple is still a shining star in the tech sector.

Last year, Apple benefited from new products like AirPods, the iPhone X, and the development of augmented reality when it ranked in as number one. This year, Fast Company points to the company’s A12 Bionic processor as its most impressive product:

Apple’s most impressive new product of 2018 wasn’t a phone or a tablet, but a chip: the A12 Bionic. Debuting in last fall’s iPhones, it’s the industry’s first processor based on a seven-nanometer manufacturing process. The A12’s 6.9 billion transistors deliver dramatically faster performance, lower power consumption, and more raw muscle for intensive applications such as AI, AR, and high-end photography. At a time when it remains tougher than ever to induce consumers to upgrade, as proven by Apple’s surprise January move to cut revenue guidance on sluggish iPhone sales, the innovative chip design positions the company to create a whole new generation of irresistible experiences.

“They are making chips in-house that really are able to run those data-intensive operations like AI, AR, high-end photography — things that will make their devices more powerful going forward. So they are laying the foundation for years of innovation,” Farley said.

While it may seem like a sizeable drop in ranking for Apple, these type of lists and results and generally very arbitrary, so I wouldn’t look too far into it. It is, however, interesting to read why Fast Company justifies the rankings of the various companies.