Best Leaders: Execs

Kirsten Ulve

Steve Jobs

Apple, Pixar

No one in techland had a better year—or a broader impact—than Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs. Apple continued to set tech’s fashion agenda in 2005 with products such as the iPod nano and the video iPod, as well as the Mac mini, Apple’s cheapest computer ever. Indeed, no exec sits astride both the technical and creative worlds as much as Jobs, who also runs powerhouse Pixar Animation Studios, maker of megahits such as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

That helps explain why Jobs, 50, was able to persuade Disney to make hit TV shows such as Lost available on the video iPod. Within weeks of Apple’s coup, CBS and NBC launched their own digital-distribution deals. Disney played ball because it wanted to extend its partnership with Pixar—and because iPods are so hot. Some 10 million are expected to sell this quarter, many at Apple’s sleek retail stores, where consumers see and play with Macs. That helped Apple make its biggest PC market share gains in years—and helped the stock price more than double since Jan. 1, to about $73.

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