TR50: The 50 Most Innovative Companies

We will posting Technology Review’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2011 in increments of five as not to overwhelm you. Innovation is the place to be, in our book.

1) Alcatel-Lucent (ALU)
Why: Has created a cellular network that can cope with our growing appetite for mobile data.
Key innovation: Its LightRadio architecture uses many small, efficient, and easily upgraded base stations in place of the larger, less efficient cell towers of today.

2) Alta Devices
Why: Its high-efficiency gallium arsenide–based solar cells provide a way to lower the cost of solar power.
Key innovation: Can economically produce robust cells that use only small amounts of the expensive semiconductor.

3) Apple (AAPL)
Why: The Siri virtual assistant built into the iPhone 4S demonstrates a new kind of conversational voice-operated interface.
Key innovation: Software that can interpret ambiguous sentences allows Siri to understand even casual commands.

4) Applied Materials (AMAT)
Why: A key supplier of equipment for making solar cells, it is helping to lower the cost of solar power.
Key innovation: A new manufacturing system allows solar producers to increase the output and efficiency of their cells.

5) ARM Holdings (ARMH)
Why: By reducing the electricity demands of data centers, ARM is making cloud computing cheaper.
Key innovation: Its powerful server processors use an architecture originally developed for energy­-conscious mobile devices.

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