Apple Is Now the Most Admired Company

But tech's fast product cycles make it tough to stay on top.

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Apple says the MacBook Air is the world's thinnest notebook PC.
Apple says the MacBook Air is the world's thinnest notebook PC.

A banner year in new products helped make Apple the most admired U.S. company, according to the annual list compiled by Fortune. With the runaway success of the iPhone coming on the heels of hits ranging from iPods to Mac OS X to iMacs, it's hard to dispute that CEO Steve Jobs has the company at the peak of its game.

Even Apple TV, which languished after being introduced early last year, appears to have new life with version 2.0.

It'll be tough to stay in the top 10, where Apple first appeared in 2007. Tech products move so quickly through life cycles that Apple and Google, another top-10 finisher, face a particularly tough time staying out in front. Just ask Dell and Microsoft, which fell out of the top 10 last year.

The speech that Jobs gave at this year's Macworld conference appeared to generate less excitement than in years past. There was the well-received upgrade to Apple TV, but the jury's out on the day's biggest announcement—of the ultrathin, ultralight MacBook Air laptop.

Still, it's hard to count out Apple these days. It'll be fun to see what Jobs and company unveil next.