NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Innovation boils down to two elements: creating something and making people want it. These companies make both look simple.
The American consumer spends his or her year having various products and services thrown their way until they're wading through a stew of other companies' stuff. An innovative business or brand, though, makes enough great products or does enough right to make portions of that stew go down a little smoother and make the entire buying experience worth savoring. These 10 companies did that with flourish this year, some with help from a familiar name, others despite sea-sized obstacles between themselves and the buyer base. All, however, have something to be proud of -- and a lot more to offer -- as the year draws to a close:
1. Microsoft (MSFT)
Credit where credit is due. Microsoft is back in the game.
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