Apple Named #3 In Wired's Top 10; Pixar #9

Each year, Wired magazine offers up a list of companies they believe are the pacesetters of current and future technology. According to Wired, these companies find innovative ways to create and market products and services in an increasingly global marketplace, they manage to make their presence known as leaders in their respective fields, and have a clear vision of who they are and where they are going. All this while remaining nimble enough to change with the times.

This year, both companies led by Apple CEO Steve Jobs made not only The Wired 40 list , but managed to be in the top 10, with Apple taking the number 3 spot.

Hereis what The Wired 40 says about Apple:

3. Apple Computer (new)

They laughed in 2001 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, Appleis $400 MP3 player. They laughed in 2003 when he opened the iTunes Music Store, selling songs for 99 cents when millions of consumers were downloading tracks for free. But Jobs is having the last laugh, while creating the kind of platform-and-content synergy that gadget makers dream of. Having sold 5 million iPods, Apple owns 55 percent of the music player market. Meanwhile, iTunes has coaxed the Big Five record labels into a single online store and persuaded fans to download - legally - more than 60 million songs, about 70 percent of commercial downloads. And beyond consumers of digital media, Apple is empowering a new generation of content creators with superior music production (GarageBand) and video editing (iMovie). Put them on the blazing Power Mac G5 and you have the platform of the creative class.

Done: The iPod Mini, released in February, is already taking market share from makers of smaller, cheaper music players.

To do: With iTunes for Windows and the HP-branded iPod, Apple is finally playing well with others. If only it would find more playmates.

Pixar came in at number 9:

9. Pixar (new)

In 1995, Steve Jobs predicted in these pages that Pixar would usher in a new era of filmmaking, possibly even supplanting traditional 2-D cel animation. It took less than a decade for his company to deliver, serving up digital crowd-pleasers like Finding Nemo, the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. Between five feature films and a handful of shorts, Pixar has collected a staggering $2.5 billion and 17 Academy Awards - an average of $500 million and three Oscars for each feature. And it consistently keeps 44 percent of what it takes in, an unheard-of percentage in the media industry. Pixar also licenses its technology to others, but its ability to advance digital imagery with each new release keeps it in the vanguard. Pixaris success in movies, along with Appleis in music, has made Jobs the first digital media mogul.

Done: Jobs declined to renew his 13-year-old distribution deal with Disney, prompting would-be suitors to begin a frenzied mating dance.

To do: Pixar needs a distribution partner willing to accept a smaller cut than Disney, yet with enough clout to reach the masses.

The Wired 40 includes other heavyweights like Google (#1), Amazon (#2), IBM (#13), Nvidia (#22), Intel (#24), and Microsoft (#27). Check out the full list at Wired News.