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Apple Tops List of World's Most Innovative Companies... Again

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It’s a cliché for a reason: Innovate or die. In this information economy, companies that stay on top are those that come up with the most creative approaches the fastest.

Iconic entrepreneur Steve Jobs is likely winking from on high. For the ninth year in a row, Apple topped Boston Consulting Group's annual list of the most innovative companies.

Google, which ranked second from 2006 to 2012, slipped to the third spot this year. And Samsung, which was in the middle of the pack at No. 26 in 2008, has been on a consistently upward trajectory, landing at the No. 2 spot in this year’s ranking.

While the innovation list is extremely tech-heavy at the top, the auto industry made a noticeable appearance this year. Not only was electric automaker Tesla -- the brainchild of iconic entrepreneur Elon Musk -- on the list for the first time, but more traditional car manufacturers Ford and BMW ranked in the top 10.

Related: What Really Fosters Innovation (Infographic)

"Tech and telecom still rule a big part of the innovation roost," Kim Wagner, a BCG senior partner and coauthor of the report, said in a statement. "But we are also seeing a resurgence in recognition for the ability of traditional manufacturers to innovate in product, process, and technology. Auto companies are leading the way."

Also notable in this year's report is a new section recognizing a handful of what BCG calls "up and coming" companies – companies that are still relatively young or have yet to reach "global giant" status. In this category, BCG recognized Alibaba, Groupon, mobile messaging platform Line (NHN Corporation), Netflix, Pinterest, internet-retailer Rakuten, Spotify, Square, free messaging platform WhatsApp and consumer electronics company Xiaomi Technologies.

The BCG innovation report is the result of a global survey of more than 1,500 senior executives in a wide variety of industries across many geographic regions. The majority of those surveyed say that innovation is within the three top priorities for their companies.

Here’s a look at the 20 most innovative companies in the world.

1. Apple

2. Samsung

3. Google

4. Microsoft

5. Toyota

6. IBM

7. Amazon

8. Ford

9. BMW

10. General Electric

11. Sony

12. Facebook

13. General Motors

14. Volkswagen

15. Coca-Cola

16. Hewlett-Packard

17. Hyundai

18. Honda

19. Audi

20. Daimler

Related: Apple Sells 9 Million New iPhones in First Weekend

 

Catherine Clifford

Written By

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.