While some are suggesting that by dismissing calls to create a combined music and video player, Apple may be overwhelmed by the competition – both Sony and Microsoft are set to introduce combination video and audio players later this year – one US newspaper is saying: "Never underestimate Apple CEO Steve Jobs."

The report in The Contra Costa Times suggests that Jobs’ knowledge and standing in the industry means that his views should be taken seriously. The report states: "With roots both in Silicon Valley's digital culture and the 1960s counterculture, Jobs has long been an arbiter of what is cool in technology."

And, thanks to his leadership of Pixar animation studios, "Jobs has attained a level of influence over how life is lived in the digital age that is unmatched by even his most powerful computer industry rivals," leading cultural historian Kevin Starr to describe Jobs as "the Henry J Kaiser or Walt Disney of this era".

The report also suggests that Apple's growth shouldn't be defined by its PC market share, "but instead by Jobs' ability to create new consumer markets". As Jobs has said: "We're getting a chance to see what Apple engineering and Apple design can really do once we get out from underneath the 5 per cent Macintosh operating system share."

It is even suggested that Jobs has outshone Microsoft's Bill Gates "not in market share, of course, but in innovation". Forrester Research chief executive George Colony said: "Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs arrived with the idea of digitizing the world, but Gates has lost his way. Despite all of his warts, Jobs has kept the dream alive, whether it's movies, music or photos. I call him the digitizer."

Needham & Co analyst Charles Wolf added: "It's fascinating that the company is morphing into something else. Jobs is absolutely brilliant in understanding consumer products."