MediaGuardian 100 Hits & Misses: Google Trio Trade, Ballmer’s Unexplained Entry

Yet another year in which they’ve overlooked the I Like Turtles kid; here are the digital highlights (or perhaps lowlights) of the annual MediaGuardian 100 – a list of the UK’s most influential media execs, as drawn up in the pubs just off Farringdon Road by a rigorously controlled selection panel. Since they asked, here’s a view on the hits and misses (just a bit of fun, guys)…

Eh? – 1. Larry Page & Sergey Brin: Though their CEO Eric Schmidt was last year’s number one, this year he’s missing from the list entirely. Likewise, the “don’t be evil” twins were no-shows last year. Ah, power is fickle. Who’s really running the world’s most lucrative website? At least one of the three, that’s for sure. Maybe next year will be Schmidt’s again.

Miss – 6. Steve Jobs: He may still run Europe’s biggest digital music retailer, but, as The Guardian’s own panel conceded, “the iPhone has so far struggled to live up to the hype”. His computers may be swish and growing in share, but Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has so far failed to replicate the merely modest success of its US movie rentals and TV store on this side of the pond. Nevertheless, he’s moved up a place from last year.

Miss – 7. Steve Ballmer: The new Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO shoots unfathomably in as a high new entry (above The Sun’s editor, for example), despite his predecessor Bill Gates not having earned a place in last year’s list at all. Ballmer’s placement is attributed mostly to his $50 billion acquisition budget – a sign of desperation rather than prowess.

Microsoft may still have a significant content operation in MSN UK, but the diversified heyday of Slate is over; it’s left with a spaghetti of overlapping consumer brands and Live Search has a mere three percent European share. Whilst it has plenty of advertising talent bubbling beneath, this was the year when Ballmer’s continuing Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) pursuit demonstrated not Microsoft’s power but how much catching up it has to do in search advertising.

Hit – 28. Ashley Highfield: Undoubtedly, the recently departed BBC future media and tech director was the Brit of the year… a year that started with a flurry of iPlayer complaints from multiplatform advocates but ended with 75 million shows via the project. Oh, and a job at BBC Worldwide, a newborn baby and a £406,000 pay package. Success indeed; and all eyes are still on Highfield, as CEO of the upcoming Kangaroo platform.

Miss – 47. Arianna Huffington: Greek-American Arianna’s US HuffPo blog (not really a blog, more a guest columnist network) may have blazed a trail in American politics, rightly earning her a reputation as one of the most influential of new-wave publishers. But this was supposed to be a UK list, and, whilst the dahling is rightly admired by many a British editor, her influence over here is far less – certainly less than Bebo’s Joanna Shields or domestic BBC journo Evan Davis, who trail her in the list.

Eh? – Robert Scoble: The blogger and FastCompany video streamer is ranked the tenth most influential figure in UK digital media – but isn’t ranked on the overall list of 100; not even close to top-heavy glamour model Jordan. Production error or token gesture?

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