Home / Business News & Opinions / How Apple Lost Its Edge: ‘Most Innovative Companies’ Rankings Dethrones iPhone Maker from #1 to Dismal #17

How Apple Lost Its Edge: ‘Most Innovative Companies’ Rankings Dethrones iPhone Maker from #1 to Dismal #17

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM
Ben Brown
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:53 PM

It’s been a rough year for Apple. iPhone sales are down 15%. The stock price got crushed. And now the company has lost its top spot on Fast Company’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies .

The iPhone maker is replaced at number one by Chinese “super app” Meituan Dianping. The top ten is rounded out with notable appearances from Twitch, Square, and Disney.

So how did Apple, the world’s biggest company on the planet, lose its edge?

Apple’s Lack of Product Innovation

Apple was once the leader of product innovation. The iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone were all inspiring products of their time. The tech giant forced entire industries to change and follow their lead. 

Even last year, Apple topped Fast Company’s list because of product development :

“Its wireless AirPods became ubiquitous around the country; the Apple Watch Series 3 is a bestseller; and even skeptics were blown away by the iPhone X.”

In 2018, the well of inspiration dried up. This time around, Fast Company could only praise a microchip :

“Apple’s most impressive new product of 2018 wasn’t a phone or a tablet, but a chip: the A12 Bionic… Faster performance, lower power consumption, and more raw muscle for intensive applications such as AI, AR, and high-end photography.”

Of course, technology is a core part of Apple’s offering, but they need to package it into a brand new, killer product.

Stiff Competition from Samsung and Huawei

When it comes to pushing the boundaries of next-generation smartphones, Samsung is stealing the crown from Apple.

Yesterday, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy Fold, a futuristic folding smartphone. With a price tag of $2,000, it’s not about to replace the average phone. But it’s an example of imaginative innovation. The kind of innovation once synonymous with Apple.

In the same announcement, Samsung revealed the new Galaxy S10, complete with a crypto wallet. Samsung is looking to the future, leaving Apple to play catch up.

A recent CNBC report suggested that Huawei is also gaining ground on Apple and Samsung  thanks to cheaper products.

Lack of Focus on Brand

Apple used to sell products by positioning itself as the most desirable smartphone maker. It sold a brand, not a product.

Now, Apple’s marketing seems to focus on technology and product details. Apple needs to go back to inspirational messaging to hook the next generation.

The Cupertino-based giant can get its edge back. As CCN.com reported, the is starting to look beyond the iPhone. It has put vast resources into developing streaming services capable of competing with Netflix and Spotify. 

Elsewhere, the company is developing artificial intelligence systems and smart-home technology. Apple remains well positioned to dominate a handful of industries.

Fast Company’s “50 Most Innovative Companies”

With Apple falling to #17, the top spot is claimed by Meituan Dianping. The Chinese company is described as a “transactional super app ” that offers on-demand services in everything from food to hotels to movie tickets. Think of it like an Uber-for-everything.

“Our strategy [is] integrating different businesses… to attract a large volume of users with high-frequency services” – Xia Huaxia, Meituan’s chief scientist.

Elsewhere in the top ten is payments company Square at #8 which is praised for its new Square Terminal product. Twitch is featured at #10 for breaking ground beyond the gaming community. And Disney features at #4 for positioning itself to take on Netflix.