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The Steve Jobs Economy

A back-of-the-envelope assessment of how much the ailing CEO has been worth to Apple and to the tech industry overall.
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1. The Big Apple Itself

No company has relied on a personality cult as much as Apple has with Steve Jobs. "Apple might well have been out of business by mid-1998 if he hadn't come back," says Jason Snell, editorial director of Macworld, an independent trade magazine. "So he arguably could take credit for every single dollar." Perhaps eyeing the future, Apple has begun to spread the love-to chief operating officer Tim Cook, industrial-design chief Jonathan Ive (below), and head of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller. Our industry authorities suggest we give Jobs 50 percent of the credit. In the past 12 months, sales were $33 billion.

Jobs' Bite of the Apple: $16.5 billion

2. The Expanding Ecosystem
More than 4,000 accessories for iPods and iPhones are now on the market, everything from Bose speakers to toilet-paper holders doubling as iPod stands. Accessory sales have reached $2 billion a year, though Apple is said to demand up to 10 percent of most items' retail price in fees and royalties. Annual sales of iPhone applications (for which Apple's cut is closer to 30 percent) are at $175 million, making the total value for non-Apple companies $1.9 billion. Throw in the roughly $5 billion a year AT&T earns from its deal as the exclusive iPhone carrier (we're crediting Apple for only new AT&T customers), and the total is $6.9 billion. Then give Jobs his 50 percent cut.

Jobs' Bite of the Apple: $3.5 billion

3. The Competitors
One fringe benefit of Apple's innovations is that they spur the competition to play catch-up.
(Microsoft Zune, anyone?) Jobs took MP3 technology mainstream, so he deserves credit for a slice of the $44 billion his competitors bring in annually. Last year, Amazon reportedly made $39 million from MP3 downloads alone. Would anyone have bothered downloading a single cut without iTunes or the iPod? The same goes for the $64 billion smartphone market. Without the iPhone, there would be no BlackBerry Storm phone or Google Android software. We'll give Jobs 10 percent of the credit for the $108 billion in revenue generated by competitors.

Jobs' Bite of the Apple: $10.8 billion

Bottom Line
The most recent estimate of Jobs' personal net worth was $5.7 billion. But he means much more than that to Apple, its partners, and its competition. On an annual basis, Jobs is the $30.8 billion man.

Steve Jobs' Total Annual Value: $30.8 billion

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