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Company: Apple Computer

Title: Co-founder and CEO

How he’s leading: In just five years, Apple has done much of the heavy lifting needed for digital media distribution to take off.

Without Jobs’ eye for design simplicity — and masterful diplomacy with content congloms — digital music and video still would be confined to college dorm rooms and dark corners of the Consumer Electronics Show.

As a reward, Jobs now can expand his hardware reach into TV receivers and even mobile phones.

With the iPod, Jobs has turned product development itself into an art form. At the start of this year’s holiday selling season, Apple’s newest Video iPod topped the sales chart of Amazon.com’s electronics department, with its revamped, $80 music-only Shuffle model not far behind. That follows the introduction of network TV shows on the iTunes Store this summer, and the addition of Disney movie downloads this fall.

Close to 70 million iPods have been sold since the device’s 2001 bow, and with more than 1.5 billion songs purchased on iTunes, Apple has become the country’s fourth-largest music retailer.

Jobs simply makes products that conform to consumer lifestyles — not the other way around. Next up for the company is iTV, a box that wirelessly streams video from home computers to televisions. Rumors abound as to whether Apple will soon deliver an iPhone handset integrating two of the three items people always leave their house with. (iKeys? Just give him time.)

POV: In 2004, Jobs publicly pooh-poohed the notion of a portable video player. What made him reconsider? “With Apple, it’s always about the attention to detail,” says Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg. Jobs waited until he could “deliver a good video experience in terms of (device) form factor and battery life — and made sure (Apple) had enough legal video content available for the market.”

Homevid Leader Report:

Homevid heads face twin challenges of tumultuous tech times

Kelley Avery

Gary Arnold

Barbie

Steve Beeks

Jeffrey Bezos & Bill Carr

David Bishop

Robert Chapek

Jeff Clanagan

Mike Dunn

Stephen Einhorn

Reed Hastings

Martin Greenwald

Robert J. Higgins

Craig Kornblau

Avi Lerner

Warren Lieberfarb

Mike Meadows & Jeffrey Lerner

Curt Marvis & Bruce Eisen

Henry McGee

David Porter

Gregg Steinhafel

Jim Taylor

Kevin Tsujihara & Ron Sanders

Bob & Harvey Weinstein and Trevor Drinkwater