I have to say that Fortune’s various “Lists” have made it all but impossible for me to take the magazine seriously. Today’s article on the “25 most powerful people in business” is as perfect an example of this as any. In it they name Steve Jobs of all people the “most powerful man in business”
Here’s the quote…
Since returning to Apple in 1997, he has changed the dynamics of consumer electronics with the iPod, and persuaded the music industry, the television networks, and Hollywood to distribute their wares with the iTunes Music Store. With his hugely successful Apple Stores, he gave the big-box boys a lesson in high-margin, high-touch retailing. And this year, at the height of his creative and promotional powers, Jobs orchestrated Apple's entry into the cellular telephone business with the iPhone.
That's five industries that Jobs has upended - computers, Hollywood, music, retailing, and wireless phones. At this moment, no one has more influence over a broader swath of business than Jobs.
Upended? Really? Because last I checked all those industries were still working in pretty much the same way they always had. Did Apple really “destroy, overthrow or completely change” these industries or does someone at Fortune just need to consult a dictionary?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with my iPhone and the only thing stopping me from getting an iBook before Christmas is my good judgment (since I already have a relatively new notebook) which doesn’t stand much of a chance against my gadget lust. But Jobs is a guy who still runs a relatively small computer company (albeit with an extremely large market valuation) and whose other businesses are dependent on a group of people who have all but turned against him. Those “other” businesses being iTunes and that group of people being the heads of every major media company who all seem to think Jobs is getting too much power in their industry. Heck, if Murdoch alone (#2 on the list btw) decides to pull his support from iTunes then Apple is all but out of the TV business.
I’m not saying that Apple isn’t doing well or that Steve Jobs isn’t more powerful than he’s ever been (and certainly more powerful than most people in the business world) but they still have a ways to go before they conquer the world. This Fortune article seems to think they’ve already having done it.