updated 09:40 am EST, Wed December 8, 2010
Apple CEO named decade's best over Amazon, Google
A year-end wrap-up has named Apple chief Steve Jobs the CEO of the decade. The nod from MarketWatch put him ahead of other well-known tech executives that defined the period, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Google's Eric Schmidt. He also trumped those outside of the field, such as Starbucks' Howard Schultz and engine maker Cummins' Tim Solso.
The company co-founder won out simply through the sheer influence on technology and the industry in the past 10 years. The iPod and the iTunes Store may have "single-handedly" rescued the music industry by legitimizing Internet music sales, the award read. Jobs was also credited with redefining handheld devices with the iPhone and legitimizing touchscreen devices. Until the iPhone, the category had mostly been limited to niche, usually pen-driven phones and PDAs using PalmOS and Windows Mobile.
iPads, rounding out the decade, might also have a long term effect on news and on general-purpose computing. Pixar's success with CG movies played a part as well.
The executive didn't receive uniform praise as some of his practices have been questionable. Corporate responsibility was in doubt for much of the decade and only recently saw the end to a backdating scandal through a settlement. The frequent denials surrounding the life-saving liver transplant have also drawn flak.
Jobs' reputation for being a micromanager and routinely insisting on Apple's complete control of its ecosystem has attracted its own criticism. The top-heavy company has created some worry as investors and others have noted that the company still depends heavily on Jobs' direction. Recent keynotes have seen Jobs regularly bring on other executives to co-host to prove that there were other executives who could take over, although he has never publicly outlined a succession plan for when he dies or retires.
Regardless, the company's economic performance has been cited as proof in itself, as it has succeeded for much of the past decade even in the middle of recession and passed Microsoft's market cap by succeeding in mobile where Windows Mobile failed. He is also known for having proven that simple but well-done products would usually fare better than devices that focus chiefly on features. Amazon and others have mostly profited from this model where those focusing on feature checklists first, such as Nokia and SanDisk, have usually fallen behind.
The next decade may be challenging for Jobs, as Android has the possibility of overtaking the iPhone and the iPad despite early evidence of a possible slowdown. MP3 players are also on the decline, and the largest piece of Apple's iPod sales now goes to the iPod touch, where its similarity to the iPhone is its biggest advantage. Regulators may also challenge some of Jobs' attempts to completely control the iOS experience by requiring interoperability and the ability to load apps that weren't sold through the App Store.