Never mind Mark What's-His-Name, The Financial Times, Britain's equivalent of The Wall Street Journal, has handed its Person of the Year crown to Steve Jobs, the Apple CEO and onetime tech wunderkind turned comeback player of the quarter century.
Saying this year's unveiling of the iPad "capped the most remarkable comeback in modern business history," the FT noted Apple's Jobs-led bounce-back from its near demise in the '90s, as well as the visionary leader's perseverance through his recent struggles with cancer. In terms of Silicon Valley lore, the publication said, Jobs now shares the stage with no one.
"Long-time nemesis Bill Gates may be richer and, at his peak, arguably exerted greater sway, thanks to his monopoly over the world's PC software," the FT said in a profile of Jobs earlier this week. "But the Microsoft co-founder has left the stage to devote his life and fortune to good works. It is Mr. Jobs who now holds the spotlight."
Despite a slip or two, Jobs has, indeed, enjoyed a fine year. Upon its release, the iPad leaped into consumers' hands--and the culture's consciousness--smashing, by some accounts, all previous records of consumer-electronics adoption and threatening to make the PC a thing of the past.
And speaking of Mr. Gates, Apple passed Microsoft in overall market capitalization this summer, no doubt a sweet feeling, considering the Redmond giant's perceived rip-off, lo all those years ago, of the Mac OS in its Windows operating system (remember those bumper stickers that read "Windows '95 = Mac '84"?).
The icing on the iCake for 2010 was the realization of a personal dream for Jobs, the featuring of The Beatles on iTunes.
Still, the year was not without its sore spots, the most remarkable being the bizarre loss of an iPhone prototype and its subsequent appearance on a gadget blog, and Jobs and Company's uncharacteristically ham-fisted handling of public relations during the iPhone 4 antenna-gate kerfuffle.
Jobs' eventual public handling of the iPhone prototype mess was much more like him: Officially introducing the by-then anything-but-secret device later in the year, he cracked up the audience by quipping, "Stop me if you've already seen this," a classic example of the charisma that's helped make Jobs a legend.