Even absent, Apple’s Jobs a big player at Sun Valley

* Apple CEO Jobs skips Sun Valley gathering

* Apple devices shifting balance of media power

* Media newest battleground in Apple and Google rivalry

By Alexei Oreskovic and Paul Thomasch

SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: )
boss Steve Jobs was a no-show at an annual pow-wow of media and
technology moguls in Sun Valley. But he was far from
forgotten.

At a conference graced by such luminaries as Warren Buffett
and Bill Gates, Jobs and the consumer electronics titan he
co-founded were on the lips of the assembled media and tech
chieftains alternately wary of and excited by Apple’s growing
sway over the industry.

Apple’s increasing role in media distribution from music to
books, its aspirations in advertising and hit products like the
iPad have made the company one of the most influential players
in an industry struggling to adapt to the Internet age.

For movie studios, publishers and music labels, Apple
represents promising new ways to reach consumers as well as a
potentially threatening shift in a balance of power that has
traditionally favored the creators of content.

“It’s hard not to be aware of them,” said one senior media
executive on the sideline of the conference, hosted by boutique
investment bank Allen & Co. “Apple wants to sell devices. For
them, the higher the quality, and the lower the cost of the
content, the better.”

It isn’t clear who holds the cards — Apple or the media
companies. But its new devices are forcing the industry to
rethink established ways of doing business, executives said.

“It’s a multiple device world,” Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N: )
Chief Executive Bob Iger said when asked about the importance
of new gadgets in the media distribution equation.

Iger said Disney’s goal was to obtain mass distribution for
content. But as the distribution landscape changes, he expected
to see limited exclusivity content deals across the industry.

With a market capitalization of $235 billion, Apple
recently surpassed Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) to claim the title
of world’s most valuable technology company.

Apple seems to be everywhere these days. It ranks as the
top U.S. music retailer thanks to its iTunes online music
store. Its catalog of more than 200,000 App Store applications
for the iPhone and iPad offers an opportunity to play a similar
role in newfangled entertainment and gaming products.

And with the new iPad tablet, Apple is moving into the
electronic book market, competing with Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: )
and Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N: ) as a book distributor.

“Thanks to all the distribution models we have, content
isn’t scarce,” said Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster and the
managing director of Discern. “The scarce resource is the
experience. Content is just one piece of the experience and it
turns out the person closest to the consumer is the person who
controls the experience. Right now that is Apple.”

Sun Valley has garnered a reputation as a fertile ground
for content deal-making. But Jobs wasn’t making the rounds and
the company hasn’t yet announced iPad deals with many of the
major content producers, including Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: ), CBS
Corp (CBS.N: ) and Viacom Inc (VIAb.N: ).

Content owners — though they might enjoy the distribution
and audiences offered by Apple’s gadgets — have been hesitant
about striking deals that leave them in a weak position down
the road, mindful of how iTunes roiled the music industry.

Then also, Apple rival Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ) — whose Android
software platform is powering a host of devices — offers them
a viable distribution alternative. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said
at Sun Valley this week that he’s had talks with all the major
content producers about various projects.

“The value of his (Jobs’) distribution system is only as
good as the content that is available on it,” Scott Singer,
investment banker at Bank Street, said ahead of the conference.
“I am still a firm believer that content is still king. So he
needs Leslie Moonves, he needs Bob Iger, he needs Rupert
Murdoch. He needs them to create great entertainment and
information so people buy something.”
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba and Yinka Adegoke;
Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

Even absent, Apple’s Jobs a big player at Sun Valley