Tag Archives: companies

Top Ten Mobile Companies of 2012

Top Ten Mobiles Companies of 2012 is compiled from a list by Fast Company.

  1. Square

    For creating a new kind of mobile, social, and local retailer and streamlining point-of-sale payments. When Square launched in October 2010, it was a mere dongle that plugged into iPhones, enabling anyone–especially small businesses–to accept credit card payments. No more. Square has since set out to transform the entire payments process, launching an iPad app designed to replace the cash register and point of sale credit card equipment and processing and its Card Case app brings the future of the digital wallet to smartphones today without having to wait for a tap-and-pay system of embedded chips and readers.

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  2. Tapjoy

    For fueling mobile app growth through the use of in-app advertisements. Its 280 million users select which ads to engage with in exchange for receiving virtual currency that they can later use in their favorite apps. Its turnkey in-app advertising platform has monetized more than 11,000 apps across Apple’s iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, and HTML5 platforms. “For thousands of developers around the world, their apps wouldn’t see the light of day without us,” says CEO Mihir Shah. “We’re in the business of discovery. We pair user interests with great mobile apps.”Last November, Tapjoy branched out from mobile advertising with the beta launch of its personal app marketplace, which delivers customized app recommendations based on users’ current apps, as well as those of their friends.

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  3. Foursquare

    For moving far beyond check-ins and adding services like daily deals, a recommender, and real-time geolocation alerts. Last year, the location-based social network partnered with Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob to offer live deals within its mobile app. It also rolled out Radar, an opt-in service that knows where you are and alerts you when you’re near a restaurant or store you’ve saved to your to-do list. And in November, it leveraged the mass of data its collected since launching in 2009–from more than 10 million users and over a billion check-ins–to create a kind of personalized city guide for users logging in from a computer or tablet.

  4. Instagram

    For creating a beautiful, free photo-sharing service that lets regular people take professional-looking photos. Instagram’s signature square-shaped photos pay homage to Polaroid’s instant camera, and amateurs can create frame-worthy shots by stylizing their photos with the app’s special custom filters. Users can then share to multiple social networks at once, including Instagram’s own network. The site has grown to more than 15 million users, up from one million last January. Famous users include President Barack Obama, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber.

  5. Flipboard

    For bringing its addictive news- and social-media consumption app to the iPhone and making it even more irresistible. Upon its debut late last year, the iPhone app tripled the typical usage of Flipboard’s iPad app. The addition of the iPhone app grew Flipboard’s page views (which it calls flips) from 650 million to almost 2 billion per month. Smart and timely content guides, to enhance everything from the Presidential election to watching the Super Bowl, go further in making Flipboard an essential tool for consuming content.

  6. Shopkick

    For creating the first instant geo-couponing system that rewards users for stepping into retail stores. Shopkick has redefined the check-in-to-reap-rewards game by eliminating a step: the act of checking in. It works by installing a hardware system in each of its partner stores that picks up signals from smartphones that has installed the app. So users start accumulating “kicks,” or rewards, the moment they walk in. Since launching in 2010, Shopkick has grown to 3 million users who walked in to 5 million stores and interacted with 1 billion products as of January 2012. Last November, Shopkick partnered with Visa to give customers an added incentive to shop after walking in. Users with registered Visa cards get rewards anytime they shop in participating stores including Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, and Toys ‘R’ Us. “We’re the only company that gives rewards just for walking in,” says cofounder Cyriac Roeding. “It happens so fast, people think it’s like magic. It’s instant gratification.”

  7. GetGlue

    For turning live TV-watching into a social media appointment with friends and fellow fans. “If you’re watching TV, chances are you’re using social media, too,” says CEO Alex Iskold. “We’re tapping into that market.” GetGlue offers its users three main services: the ability to check in to a TV show, interaction with others watching too, and special loyalty features like retail rewards and profile badges. Last year, its monthly check-ins increased 1,000%, to more than 16 million per month by year’s end. GetGlue has partnerships with more than 70 media companies, including virtually all of the major TV networks. And some, like TNT, have even integrated GetGlue into their own mobile apps. Last year it refined its filters to direct users toward conversations they’re most interested in, based on their TV preferences.

  8. Twilio

    For easing app developers’ headaches by letting them add voice, SMS and VoIP functionality to their apps. Twilio provides easy-to-integrate phone and text services to its 75,000 developers. “The number-one thing we did was create access to telecommunications for developers, when before it was this black box,” says Danielle Morill, Twilio’s director of developer evangelism and the startup’s first hire. In 2011, it quadrupled in size to more than 100 employees and increased its customer base by 400%. Last year it launched Twilio Connect, easing the billing process between developers and their users, and Twilio Client, allowing developers to integrate cloud communications into their apps. They also expanded into Europe.

  9. Lookout

    For securing 15 million smartphones against mobile threats and reuniting lost phones with their owners. The San Francisco-based company is adding new customers at a rate of more than one million per month. After years of providing security services for BlackBerry, Windows 7, and Android phones, in October Lookout launched its free iOS app for securing data that iPhone and iPad users store on their devices. Last June it launched a new feature to protect users from online threats while web browsing on their mobile phones. Lookout’s cloud-based protection system is powered by its Mobile Threat Network, which quickly analyzes threat data worldwide and block threats as soon as they emerge. Last year they unveiled the Lookout API, which gives partners–including Verizon Wireless–access to threat data, ensuring all apps in their app stores are screened against Lookout’s databases. Lookout now comes pre-loaded on T-Mobile devices and just announced a partnership with Telstra, Australia’s biggest mobile operator, to come pre-loaded on Telstra devices as well in 2012.

  10. Bump

    For creating the smartphone’s high-five: Tap devices to share content with a friend. More than 60 million people have downloaded this app, making it the seventh most popular free download of all time. Recent updates have added music and app sharing, as well as being able to “virtually bump” friends even when they aren’t nearby.

Top 10 Innovative Web/Internet Companies

This year’s Top Ten Web/Internet Companies is compiled from a list by Fast Company.

1. Google
For breaking through in more than just search. YouTube dominates online video, and its lineup of premium original channels represents the most dramatic advance for the medium since YouTube’s debut. Its Chrome browser has surpassed Firefox and arguably delivers the best browsing experience. And display advertising is a legitimate second gusher of revenue. Read More

2. Tencent
For fueling China’s Internet boom–and boldly moving West. Chinese Internet giant with Facebook-like numbers–more than 700 million users, $3 billion in revenue, and $1 billion in profits–is pushing QQ mobile onto western platforms such as the Apple App store and European application store GetJar. It’s leading the pack in imperializing the U.S. social gaming market, as evidenced by a recent partnership with Zynga and a purchase of California-based Riot Games that represents one of the largest acquisitions of an American company by a Chinese company. Read More

3. Airbnb
For using the web to enable real-world sharing of apartments and spare rooms. The virtual hotel chain saw 500% growth in the last year, surpassing 5 million nights booked through Airbnb. Its influence is felt widely through all of the other real things people now share via the Internet (cars, parking spaces, and so forth) as well as in the uptick in design-oriented online experiences and designers playing key roles in tech startups. Read More

4. Dropbox
For simplifying web-based storage with its easy-to-use cloud file-sharing and storage system. The platform-agnostic cloud-sharing service boasts 45 million users saving more than 2 billion files each week. In October, it launched a business-specific service called Dropbox for Teams, formally introducing the file-sharing service to the corporate workplace. The company founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi is now valued at more than $4 billion. Its estimated revenue for 2011 is $240 million, though the vast majority of users pay nothing at all with its freemium model. Read More

5. Gogo
For flying high with a slew of web services for air travelers. Of the ten North American airlines that provide Wi-Fi, Gogo works with nine of them. The company has taken its commanding lead of the market–it has 85% share of what’s still a nascent market–and expanded upon mere internet access to build a platform for entertainment, gaming, shopping, and local services that broadens Gogo’s appeal and utility and lets airlines empower economy passengers carrying a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to have a first- or business-class experience. Read More

6. Akamai
For seamlessly routing Internet data from providers’ servers to users’ computers, tablets, and mobile platforms. The web content network delivers 30% of all web traffic, and its complex algorithms are helping big-name clients such as Apple, Facebook, and Netflix deliver content faster and more efficiently. In 2011, Akamai’s peak total traffic increased more than 70% over the previous year, to 8.7 terabits per second. It also focused on optimizing content for live-streaming on mobile devices. And Akamai handles the traffic with grace: Last year’s Royal Wedding broke livestreaming records, and Akamai delivered more live content for that event than any other provider.

7. Zaarly
For creating a proximity-based marketplace services lets sellers outsource tasks and errands. Individuals and businesses name their price to fulfill those needs. Zaarly recently raised $14 million, and in October HP’s Meg Whitman joined the company’s board. Ashton Kutcher, an investor, anonymously hired someone to fetch him coffee. Less than a year after launching in May at LA Startup weekend, the average Zaarly assignment costs around $52 a pop and almost 100% of people who post are repeat users.

8. CloudFlare
For protecting and securing better than anyone has done before. CloudFlare is essentially a security product, protecting companies from web threats that hamper load times. Its Automatic IPv6 Gateway, free to customers, solves a critical problem at a time when IPv4 addresses are running out: site owners won’t have to alter a single line of code to adapt. Just over a year after the service launch, CloudFlare was powering more than 100,000 websites, and at least 5% of those saw more than 1.5 million monthly page views.

9. Pinterest
For turning the universe of internet images into gorgeous dream boards. Pinterest represents a creative form of using images as a means of digital communication as well as giving users a distinctive way of presenting their personality and creativity. The site recently surpassed 10 million monthly unique visitors faster than any other, and it’s easy to see why. Users curate beautiful objects of desire from anywhere across the web into themed sets, transforming its pages into a visual feast. Businesses have started to see the value in showcasing their own goods–or their own good taste–driving even more traffic.

10. Badoo
For creating one of the world’s largest, most functional, and fastest-growing dating network. Growth exploded in 2011: Badoo now boasts 133 million users and is available in 35 languages. It launched in the U.S. in 2011 with fun features like Ice Breaker and Interests, which made it easier for strangers to start conversations around shared interests rather than merely attractive profile photos.

Top 10 Innovative Video Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Video. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut (no pun intended)?

01 / YouTube
For transforming itself from Google’s folly into a global network. Moves such as nurturing original content partners that can attract an audience; hosting successful live events (concerts, Conan O’Brien’s 24-hour live stairwell cam); developing Leanback, a more TV-like experience for viewers; and tailoring its advertising products to the site’s offerings have made YouTube into web video’s most powerful force, with some 3 billion views every day.

02 / Twitter
For shaping the future of interactive TV. Twitter has become the home for real-time conversation about live programming, sometimes integrated directly into programming (see: on-air “tweet streams” during MTV awards shows and CNN news coverage). The platform can also enhance the couch-potato experience, such as when Glee characters tweet during the show broadcasts so fans can watch alongside the on-screen personalities they love.

03 / Netflix
For leading the charge for cable cord-cutters (read: people who drop cable service in favor of streaming digital content to their TV) with its smart and aggressive dealmaking. Netflix’s most significant deal in 2010 was its content arrangement with Epix HD, an upstart cable channel, which gives the service an attractive array of movies and shows from Viacom, Paramount, and Lionsgate studios.

04 / FX
For a great run of high-quality, low-cost laffers. The cable network’s new model for developing series, particularly original comedies, has led to a number of hits for the cable network–ArcherLouieIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia–and become the envy of other networks and even the creative community.

05 / Funny or Die
For building a multi-platform comedy brand. One of the leading video destinations online thanks to its strong celebrity ties–Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Emma Stone, and more–FoD has proven a consistent ability to make videos that people want to share. But FoD’s biggest successes may be offline: Its HBO late-night series, Funny or Die Presents, has been a hit; it’s doing a sketch series with Comedy Central; and it’s producing a movie–all ways in which FoD can leverage its online success into traditional entertainment opportunities where there’s more money.

06 / UStream
For developing the leading home for live-streaming video on the Internet. It’s spent the last year building out its platform, adding tools for creators to offer pay-per-view events and their own live mobile streaming apps, and letting users pay to opt out of on-screen advertising.

07 / Brightcove
For powering web video almost everywhere you look. Brightcove runs web video for Showtime, A&E, The New York Times, Fox, Discovery Channel, and about 2,700 other companies, helping its cable partners bring their “TV Everywhere” vision to life. Brightcove was also one of the first companies to work with the new integrated video capabilities in Twitter’s updated interface.

08 / Blip.TV
For courting the original web series community with attractive revenue splits, and working with an impressive roster of advertisers, such as American Express, Microsoft, Samsung, and Zappos. Blip, which has long focused on quality over quantity, has also been a leader in embracing new video technology, such as streaming HD, HTML5, and other emerging standards.

09 / Xtranormal
For letting anyone become a web video creator. Its simple web-based app converts a text script into an animated video where users can choose their characters, add expressions, and toy with camera angles.

10 / GetGlue
For leading the way in entertainment-based check-ins. GetGlue’s “social entertainment” app, which has accrued more than 900,000 users in less than a year, combines the check-in aspect of a Foursquare with the emotional need to discuss the media we consume. It has also worked with HBO, ABC, Random House, Fox, Universal, and a number of other media companies to build a “social taste graph” that helps people connect with content they care about.

Top 10 Most Innovative Consumer Products Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Consumer Products. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / Nissan

For creating the Leaf, the first mass-market electric car.

02 / Nike >>

For its mix of sports, style, and yes, plastic bottles. Nike developed 2010 World Cup jerseys for 10 countries/teams from discarded plastic bottles scavenged from Japanese and Taiwanese landfill sites. The bottles were melted down to produce a yarn for fabric for the jerseys.

03 / Samsung >>

For transforming itself into a steady source of cutting-edge electronics. Samsung has rolled out new and sophisticated options for kitchen appliances, including the Samsung FTQ307 induction range, which features a three-fan convection oven and warming drawer, and the Samsung RF4287, which features a flexible middle drawer that can help save energy usually lost to people (especially kids) opening the entire fridge and hanging in the doorway.

04 / Dyson

For continuing to rethink urban appliances–with style. The Dyson City vacuum, technically known as the DC26 Multi-floor Vacuum, is explicitly designed for urban apartment dwellers in need of a space-saving solution. Dyson Air Multiplier fans draw in air and amplify it, from 15 to 18 times, with no blades or grille, producing an uninterrupted stream of smooth air without unpleasant buffeting.

05 / P&G

For implementing a systemized, measured means of achieving a broader set of sustainability goals. Executives announced this year a series of 10-year goals, including using renewable energy for 30% of its factories and 20% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packages.

06 / Whirlpool

For its smart washer and dryer line that brings the kind of intelligence and personalization to laundry that we’ve grown accustomed to in, say, our home-entertainment centers.

07 / Method

For doubling down on its commitment to both good design and sustainability in home cleaning products. Its new eco-friendly laundry detergent uses pump technology (a first for laundry detergent brands) to eliminate the mess created by traditional jugs of detergent. If the consumer follows the “four pump” rule, there is less wasted detergent.

08 / Oxo

For reshaping more and more everyday household tools with its smart design ethos. The International Design Excellence Awards recognized the Oxo cork pull, which comes with a built-in foil-cutter; the firm also won a bronze Spark Design Award for its GG 360 LiquiSeal Travel Mug. Next up: moving out of the kitchen. Oxo Tot is a kid-friendly line that includes bathing, cleaning, feeding, and lighting gear.

09 / Unilever

For helping consumers change their cleaning habits to become better stewards of the earth–and making more of its own eco-friendly products–as part of its Cleaner Planet Plan.

10 / Merck

For developing a groundbreaking FootMapping technology for its Dr. Scholl’s brand that uses 2,000 pressure sensors to measure the different areas of the foot that take the biggest hits when walking, and then recommends different orthotics solutions. FootMapping is part of an in-store orthotics center that Dr. Scholl’s (a brand in Merck’s consumer care division) is installing in drug stores and shoe retailers.

Top 10 Most Innovative Education Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / NYU

For opening up a second campus in Abu Dhabi. There, NYU is shepherding the most successful and ambitious attempt yet to export overseas a full-fledged American liberal arts university.

02 / LinkedIn >>

For developing LinkedIn’s Career Explorer, which offers users career path recommendations that are tailored to their interests and based on the real paths of professionals with similar profiles. CEO Reid Hoffman is also actively involved in the national conversations surrounding the future of education, and envisions his company as a 21st century diploma.

03 / Khan Academy

For building a collection of more than 1,800 short, simple video lectures and chalkboard demos that cover everything from math to physics to economics. The brain behind these web tutorials: Sal Khan, a 33-year-old Harvard MBA who developed the project out of his closet. Now, with Gates Foundation funding, he’s taking his adaptive learning system to classrooms.

04 / Discovery Education

For leading the way in the digital learning movement by making video-based content that reaches more than half of all U.S. schools, including 1 million teachers and 35 million students. The company developing digital math and science curricula for public school students in Chicago and Detroit.

05 / Togetherville

For creating a social network built on top of Facebook for kids, families, and teachers that allows them to express their thoughts on educational issues. Roughly 90,000 U.S. schools are already included in its database.

06 / Autodesk Sustainability Workshop

For teaching mechanical engineers (for free) the principles behind sustainable design. The workshop is the brainchild of designer Dawn Danby, who has worked on furniture, urban planning, and retail systems projects.

07 / OpenStudy

For building a social learning network where students can ask questions, offer help, and connect with other students studying similar topics. Its mission is to make the world one large study group, regardless of students’ locations or backgrounds.

08 / Irynsoft

For providing the first basic mobile platform that allows users to take a course on their iPhone. It has already been adopted by MIT Open CourseWare.

09 / Straighterline

For developing an online for-profit college where the first year costs $999.

10 / Inigral

For creating Facebook apps that help students stay in college by connecting them to a community of students who share their interests. Inigral also received the first-ever venture investment from the Gates Foundation.

Top 10 Most Innovative Architecture Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Architecture. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / Snøhetta >>

For design that’s both social and beautiful that blurs the lines between architecture and landscape. Snohetta’s buildings are notable for their “architecture of engagement,” in which the social experience of the structure is as important as its form.

02 / BIG

For winning high profile commissions and international accolades–a feat given the firm’s small size–thanks to the work of its Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. The studio has designed Denmark’s much-lauded pavilion for the Shanghai Expo, put the final flourishes on the Figure 8 House in Copenhagen, unveiled a pyramid-shaped residential tower for Manhattan, and knocked off the competition for a waste treatment facility in Denmark by envisioning the unglam building as the site of an urban ski slope.

03 / Foreign Office Architects

For its bold vision for the digital media education center at Ravensbourne College, which defines the school as a machine for learning by melding departments, rethinking the function of classrooms, and incorporating social media into design.

04 / Sanaa

For Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa’s ability to design properties that meld light, transparency, and materiality into ethereal spaces. These winners of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture prize designed the acclaimed New Museum in New York and the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland. Next up: a new branch of the Louvre.

05 / REX

For transforming the abandoned skeleton of an unfinished hotel in Istanbul into the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center, a significant new addition to Turkey’s contemporary architectural landscape. Joshua Prince-Ramus’s firm also won accolades in 2010 for designing the Wyly Theater in Dallas, the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, and the Finnish Innovation Funds’ Low2No sustainable development in Helsinki

06 / Michael Maltzan

For scoring tony commissions, such as designing Michael Ovitz’s house, while also tackling less glamorous work by by providing shelter and other accommodations for the poor in Los Angeles. Over the past 16 years, Maltzan has also worked on several housing projects and designed an arts complex for underprivileged children.

07 / Kengo Kuma

For developing a signature style that uses light and nature to reinterpret the design of traditional buildings. Kengo Kuma’s big win in 2010 was beating out an array of the globe’s heaviest architecture hitters to create a new landmark building for the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee, Scotland.

08 / T.R. Hamzah & Yeang International

For going beyond the usual LEED guidelines and broadcasting the green credentials of the buildings the firm designs by wrapping them in continuous strips of vegetation. Next up for thei Malaysian firm: a 26-story high-rise in Singapore whose photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation, and biogas generation plant are all wrapped in a “living wall” that covers half of its surface area.

09 / Moshe Safdie

For having a banner year, despite the difficult economic climate for architecture, and for debuting projects from Singapore to Arkansas. His most recent commission: a large residential tower in China.

10 / Diebedo Francis Kere

For doing innovative architecture projects in his native Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Among them: using traditional unbaked mud bricks to rebuild a school.

Top 10 Innovative Companies in Brazil

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Brazil. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / Azul >>

For converting bus riders into frequent fliers. Brazilian-born David Neeleman, founder of Jet Blue, brought the low-cost airline model to his home country and tweaked it to fit its nuances. About a quarter of the flights cost less than the same trip on the bus–and passengers without credit cards or with low credit limits can pay by direct bank withdrawal or in installments.

02 / Ambev

For leading the merger that formed the world’s largest brewer. When Belgian brewer Interbrew teamed up with this company to form Inbev, the boys from Brazil quickly initiated takeovers of giants such as Anheuser-Busch and Burger King. Ambev, best known for its signature beer brands Skol, Brahma, and Antártica, as well as the wildly popular soft drink Guaraná Antártica, is the conglomerate’s Latin American property and operates in 14 countries.

03 / Petrobras

For becoming the world leader in ultra-deepwater drilling. While many oil majors were content to skim the easy stuff when oil was cheap in the roaring ’90s, Petrobras invested heavily in bluewater oil deposits, using cutting edge seismic sonar to find oil and developing innovative rigs, pipes, and pumps to retrieve it from the ocean bottom. It now controls 14 ultra deepwater rigs worldwide. It’s also the sole operator in Brazil, where massive reserves of oil were recently found buried off the Atlantic coast.

04 / Osklen

For designing clothing that’s both chic and sustainable. To manufacture its chic sportswear, the company has experimented with everything from handmade silk to leather from sweet water fish to latex from the Amazon. The clothier now touts store in five countries; its second U.S. outlet opened in South Beach in 2010.

05 / Embrapa

For pioneering innovations in tropical agriculture. In 2010, Embrapa employed traditional techniques to boost vitamin content in banana, beans, corn, manioc, and squash. It also used gene splicing to increase disease resistance in papaya and beans, and up the energy content of sugar cane, Brazil’s ethanol source. Recently, Embrapa launched a Brazil-Africa partnership to share agricultural technology.

06 / Gerdau

For responding with speed and smarts to shifts in the market for steel. The most international of Brazil’s steelmakers doubled down during the recession, investing $750 billion in new plants and modernization and rescaled production to concentrate on supplying emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, which continue to grow as the richest countries struggle.

07 / Natura

For growing a green empire with Brazilian flora. Brazil’s largest beauty and personal care products company relies on local plants for its cosmetics and personal care products, uses recycled materials in its packaging, and supports environmental projects in the country.

08 / Embraer

For challenging the outsourcing model in the aviation industry. The brainchild of Brazilian engineering geeks and military technocrats, Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, better known as Embraer, “stood the outsourcing model on its head,” in the words of emerging market analyst Antoine van Agtmael, by importing the world’s best avionics parts and ginning them to a flying machine designed by Brazilians, instead of Boeing or Airbus.

09 / Metalfrio Solutions

For identifying and exploiting a profitable niche. While larger electronics and white goods manufacturers dominate world markets by offering a broad range of products, Metalfrio decided to pour its efforts and R&D into one good thing: plug-in refrigerators, coolers, and freezers for business establishments.

10 / Solar Ear

For making hearing aids affordable. Two-thirds of the world’s 600 million hearing-impaired people live in poor countries, but the batteries that run most hearing aids cost $1 and last less than two weeks. Recognizing this problem, retired Canadian appliance dealer Howard Weinstein developed the world’s first digital solar-powered rechargeable hearing aid, which costs a fifth the price of standard equipment. His Sao Paulo-based not-for-profit, whose employees are all hearing-impaired, now ships to 30 countries.

Top 10 Most Innovative Mobile Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Mobile. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / Foursquare »

For taking the concept of the “check in” mainstream and heralding a new era in local advertising. Thanks to Foursquare, millions of consumers have developed a fondness for GPS-tagging their whereabouts and using smartphones in stores, making it possible for the next generation of advertisers, marketers, retailers and e-commerce giants to take hyper-targeted messaging to the next level–and challenge the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial.

02 / eBay »

For challenging brick-and-mortar retailers with its vast slate of uber-engaging mobile apps, which emphasize browsing over buying. Its core iPhone app has been downloaded some 15 million times, and the company plans to release a series of interest-based mobile apps focusing on fashion, motors, electronics, and home and garden.

03 / Voxiva »

For developing mobile apps that coach users through everything from smoking cessation to diabetes management. The company also recently worked with the U.S. government to launch Text4Baby, a mobile education program for pregnant women and new moms.

04 /Skype

For succeeding at VoIP on both AT&T and Verizon cellphone networks. Partnerships with Verizon, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung now allow Skype to reach 500 million users.

05 / Square

For enabling small businesses to process credit-card payments by iPhone, iPad, or Android. There are no monthly minimums or contracts, only a per-transaction fee that tops out at 2.75% (plus 15 cents for entering card numbers manually).

06 / Epocrates »

For software that enables mobile access to electronic health records.

07 / Usablenet

For turning cellphones into retail-store shopping tools. The mobile websites it has built for the likes of Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel, Brookstone, CVS, Staples, Sears, and American Eagle let users make wish lists, edit gift registries, and send products to friends.

08 / JPMorgan Chase

For making banking mobile. Using its iPhone app, customers can deposit a check, make wire transfers, pay bills, and send money to friends. New credit card products (such as Sapphire) also let them see their own spending data, which makes Chase a competitor to Intuit and Mint.com.

09 / Clearwire

For igniting the 4G arms race, taking a considerable lead, and then disrupting the mobile data market by releasing a prepaid, dirt-cheap 4G hotspot, the Rover. Who needs an unlimited iPhone data plan when you have an unlimited broadband-speed connection coming out of a coaster?

10 / Greystripe

For figuring out how to run Flash ads inside iOS. With iAd and smartphone growth driving up mobile ad rates, this pioneer mobile advertising platform (backed by Disney and NBCUniversal) is likely to make piles of money in the next year or two.

10 Most Innovative Sports Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Sports. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the list? Which companies should or should not have made the cut?

01 / ESPN
For integrating new tech like a startup. Sure, it’s a behemoth, with a staggering 107 million weekly fans across seven cable networks, a magazine, radio network, podcasts, and various sites. But the brilliance of ESPN is that it constantly finds new and richer ways to experience and understand sports on all those platforms. ESPN 3D, the first 3-D TV network, went 24/7 in February. ESPNU College Town, which debuted last September, is the No. 2 sports app on Facebook. And the “30 for 30″ documentary series was absorbing, must-watch TV.

02 / Turner Sports
For growing like a new tech startup. Turner’s much better known for its TV coverage, but it dazzles online, operating the second most-visited network of sports websites, including the official sites for the NBA, PGA, and Nascar. Total online videos streamed last year: nearly 1 billion. Turner’s approach is to turn fans into multimedia producers. For example, on RaceBuddy, fans choose camera angles and driver audio during Nascar events. The company’s biggest recent win was the $10.8 billion deal it penned with CBS to televise every game in the men’s NCAA Division I tourney, starting this year. (Games will also stream for free online and via Turner’s March Madness mobile app.)

03 / Livestrong
For making an athlete’s foundation a major force in cancer. Through social media, Livestrong reaches about 3 million people a year, a model for bigger and more established health-care stalwarts. It guides the newly diagnosed cancer patients to clinical trials, fertility preservation, and insurance. It also works with medical and public-health leaders to make the disease a global priority. So far, neither Armstrong’s recent retirement nor the ongoing federal investigation into performance-enhancing drugs have slowed it down.

04 / Fenway Sports Group
For its creativity as a sports owner. How does Boston Red Sox’s parent company follow up buying half of a Nascar team and hosting a sold-out NHL game in Fenway Park? Soccer. First, Fenway Sports Group, formerly known as New England Sports Ventures, tapped World Cup fever last summer and brought in professional teams from Portugal and Scotland, introducing Fenway to non-baseball fans and generating new revenue. Then, last fall, FSG, led by John Henry and Tom Werner, purchased Liverpool, one of the signature teams in the English Premier League, the world’s most watched football league. FSG now boasts the most impressive and eclectic reach of any sports owner.

05 / Qcue
For using dynamic-pricing to fill stadiums. Airlines adjust fares to account for ticket demand and ultimately to maximize ticket revenue. Now Austin-based Qcue is enabling sports teams to do the same. In the past, for instance, baseball teams would set ticket prices before Opening Day, before they knew how good the team was and how desirable tickets were. For the past two seasons, the San Francisco Giants have used Qcue’s dynamic-pricing engine to emulate the secondary ticket market. Its algorithms set prices for a given game by factoring in the pitching match-up, opposing team, weather, day of the week, if the team’s on a winning or losing streak, and sales history. The Giants’ revenue rose 7 percent last season as Qcue adjusted prices as the team blossomed into World Series champs. Qcue works with a quarter of MLB teams and is aiming for half of all NBA teams next season.

06 / Oklahoma City Thunder
For proving that market size doesn’t matter. Following a nasty arena dispute between the Seattle Supersonic owners and city leaders, the franchise relocated in 2008 to Oklahoma City, the NBA’s smallest market (1.2 million people) and third smallest TV market. It ranks in the top 15 in overall attendance and is one of the most profitable small-market teams in any sport, worth an estimated $329 million, 18th in the league, according to Forbes. Kevin Durant, the NBA’s youngest scoring champ, and a core of young stars has led the fast turnaround, from having the league’s second-worst record to contending for the title.

07 / Athletes’ Performance
For creating the elite workout facility. The company draws clientele from pro sports as well as the World Cup and the Olympics by offering more than customized training and cutting-edge equipment. Its amenities rival those of college and pro teams, such as a staff nutritionist who customizes meal plans at an on-site cafeteria and, at its Florida facility, access to surgeon-to-the-superstars James Andrews.

08 / Bloomberg Sports
For crunching the numbers differently. Targeting teams and fans hungry for in-depth statistical analysis, Bloomberg last year launched online tools in baseball and football that capitalize on its expertise in data evaluation and visualization. The company sees a sports team like an investment portfolio: the deeper a user’s understanding of how each component is performing, the more informed his trades are, be they real or fantasy-league. Last year, 28 out of 30 MLB teams used Bloomberg’s software, performing pitch-by-pitch analysis on individual batters–and incorporating the count, pitch type, location, and more.

09 / Philadelphia Eagles
For generating renewable energy to power its stadium. When the Eagles start the season at Lincoln Financial Field this fall, they’ll be playing the world’s greenest major sports facility. Among the features: 80 2-foot wind turbines (the slim and bird-friendly helix design, not the usual propellers) atop the stadium; 2,500 solar panels on the façade; and a 7.6 megawatt dual-fuel cogeneration plant on the premises. Even better: fans drink beer out of corn-based plastic cups, everything from tarps to cooking oil can be recycled, and employees receive wind-energy credits.

10 / Bite Tech
For creating a mouthpiece with an edge. According to this Greenwich, Conn.-based company, its device aligns the jaw to increase oxygen intake, which boosts muscles, and reduces the release of stress hormones that cause fatigue. Among the believers: 27 NHL teams, 60 Olympic athletes, and Auburn University’s national champion football team. Later this year, performance-apparel giant Under Armour will take the tech mainstream.

Browse Fast Company’s list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies 2011

10 Most Innovative Transportation Companies

Here’s Fast Company‘s list of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Transportation. What do you think? Are these companies worthy of the top 10 list? Why or why not?

01. Nissan

For creating the Leaf, the first mass-market, all-electric car. To make the switch from gas to electricity easier, Nissan is working with electric companies and cities, such as Houston, to build public charging networks.

02. Azul

For converting bus riders into frequent fliers by introducing quick, convenient, and cheap flights in Brazil. The company, started by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, secured about 8% of the Brazilian market within two years of its first flight. And by the end of 2011, Neeleman plans to have the airline serving 50 Brazilian cities.

03. IBM

For revolutionizing the way we travel within and between cities. IBM’s traffic-management software, for example, raises and lowers tolls depending on how many cars are on the road.

04. GE

For greening trains and planes with innovations such as Required Navigation Performance Software, which creates the most fuel-efficient path for a landing aircraft. It’s just one part of a GE green portfolio that generates more than $18 billion annually.

05. B-cycle

For bringing the first large-scale bike-sharing system to the U.S. B-Cycle made its debut on Earth Day 2010, bringing 400 bikes to 40 docking stations in Denver. In just one month, more than 3,000 people had used the system. B-cycle now lets users check out bikes with credit cards and monitor real-time availability on iPhones.

06. Daimler

For launching a flexible, eco-friendly option in car sharing. Germany’s Daimler, the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars, transformed car-sharing with Car2Go, a network of Smartcars that can be picked up and dropped off wherever drivers want, rather than in designated parking lots.

07. Streetline

For smart-parking and traffic-control technology. There were 8,255 Streetline parking sensors for a pilot program in San Francisco, which enabled the city to implement demand-responsive pricing for parking: the fewer the spaces, the higher the cost. Streetline has spread to seven cities, including New York and Los Angeles. The aim is to have 15% of all parking spots open at any given time.

08. Boeing

For its cutting-edge U.S. military drone planes. This year, Boeing’s going robotic, with new drone planes fighting in the wars Iraq and Afghanistan. The company estimates a $55 million market for these planes through 2018.

09. A123 Systems

For running the largest lithium-ion manufacturing plant in the U.S., paving the way for American electric cars. A123 Systems opened the factory last fall, just a year after the Massachusetts-based company issued a $317 million IPO, the largest of 2009. The plant leverages nanoscale assembly, letting the company make high-voltage, fast-charging batteries.

10. Stratasys

For making the Urbee, a car manufactured by a 3-D printer. Because the Urbee was made using additive manufacturing (a.k.a. printing), manufacturers could eliminate most of the heavy tools and machinery of traditional auto assembly.