Tech icons Apple and Google top BusinessWeek's 2008 list of The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies. This year's ranking adds three financial data points - revenue, margin growth and stock returns - to survey results from company executives and senior management to decide which business belts out the brightest innovations.

Apple took the top spot for its products (though I hope not for its aggravating and deceptive practice of pushing new software through an update channel). Google, which just released a better-than-expected earnings report, came in at number 2 for its 'customer experience.'

It shouldn't come as any surprise that companies whose profit depends on harnessing the cutting edge of technology should get the nod for innovation, and other well-known names such as Microsoft (at No 5), Nintendo (No 7) and Amazon.com (No 11) appear high up. Social networking upstart Facebook comes in at the halfway point.

The package intro asks an interesting question: whether the threat of recession should prompt more innovation as a counter, or if high-risk R&D should be scaled back to protect the core business. Find that discussion and other related pieces in the package's table of contents.