Steve Jobs has been down this year -- the leave of absence, the liver transplant -- and he’s been up -- his triumphant return, Apple’s continued success. Fortune clearly thinks that over the past 10 years, his ups outweigh his downs; the publication has named Steve Jobs its CEO of the decade.
While the article spends most of its time rehashing the story of Jobs returning Apple to profitability and beyond, it also points out some impressive facts about the Apple CEO, such as the impact he’s had on multiple industries:
[ Discover the key Mac and Apple tech trends for business users. Read InfoWorld's Technology: Mac newsletter. ]
In the past 10 years alone he has radically and lucratively reordered three markets -- music, movies, and mobile telephones -- and his impact on his original industry, computing, has only grown.
Remaking any one business is a career-defining achievement; four is unheard-of. Think about that for a moment. Henry Ford altered the course of the nascent auto industry. PanAm’s Juan Trippe invented the global airline. Conrad Hilton internationalized American hospitality.
Fortune isolates 2001 as Apple’s turning point. Though Jobs had already been back for four years at that point, 2001 saw the release of several of Apple’s defining products: iTunes, the iPod, and Mac OS X. The launch of the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the iPhone in 2007 round out the company’s successes nicely.
Now, with $34 billion in the bank and what seems like record-breaking profits almost every quarter, it’s hard to see how Apple could fall to such lows again. But it’s a company whose success is based largely on innovation, and constant innovation is a tall order for any company. Add to that Jobs’s illness this year, which is a reminder that nobody lives forever.
Still, at just 54, Jobs has plenty of time left to remake three or four more industries. We look forward to seeing him picking up another “CEO of the decade” trophy for his shelf in 2019.