For the third year in a row, Apple has topped the list of Fortune's Most Admired Companies. The list was based on a poll of 4,200 executives across the world's top companies, and by the highest margin ever, they picked the Cupertino-based "mobile device company" as the world's most admired brand. Obviously the millions of MacBooks, iPhones, and iPods played a factor, but it sounds like the iPad sealed the deal this year. BMW's CEO is quoted waxing poetic about Apple's brand power: "The whole world held its breath before the iPad was announced. That's brand management at its very best."
GE has actually had the most appearances at number one on the list, and Apple needs to stay high for two more years to take that record. But it's certainly possible -- if the iPad is as popular as expected, and Apple follows it up next year with an updated version and the kind of software revolution that the iPhone brought to handheld computing, they probably will nail down the top spot yet again.