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Monday, April 26, 2004In just two and a half years, Mr. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, has managed to take a well-designed hand-held gadget, add software connecting it to Macintoshes and Windows-based personal computers and convince the recording industry that he has found an elegant solution for ending its nightmare of digital piracy. In doing so, he has shifted the emphasis of Apple from what made it famous - hip, even lovable computers - to what he hopes will keep it relevant and profitable in the future: products for a digital way of lifeApple's growth may no longer be defined by its PC market share, now a declining sliver of the PC industry, but instead by Mr. Jobs's ability to create consumer markets."Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs arrived with the idea of digitizing the world, but Gates has lost his way," said George F. Colony, the chief executive of Forrester Research, a computer industry consulting firm. "Despite all of his warts, Jobs has kept the dream alive, whether it's movies, music or photos. I call him the digitizer."People who know Mr. Jobs well say he disdains strategic thinking as it is practiced by large corporations. Several people who have worked with him describe his business approach as "instinctual."Two striking figures in Apple's most recent quarterly financial results, announced on April 14, underscore Mr. Jobs's new approach. In the last three months, Apple sold 807,000 iPods, surpassing for the first time the number of Macintosh computers it sold (749,000). At the same time, revenue for products other than Macintoshes reached 39 percent of the total of $1.91 billion for the quarter, more than double the percentage two years ago. Irrepresible - is thy name, "Steve Jobs"?
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