Apple After Steve Jobs: The Usual Successors

Though somewhat morbid, if only in a stock manipulation market sense, due to both Apple's phenomenal -- and resurgent -- success under the leadership of Steve Jobs, and the health issues faced by Jobs in the past, every time the man behind the Apple steps up on stage looking... well... whatever the vegan opposite is to Steve Ballmer's manbull big, rumors and speculation they begin to fly.

But how do you choose Steve Jobs' successor? What if you miss? Fortune shows us, joining the fray this time with a "Usual Suspects" type list, complete with PR pics and wikipedia hits, but wrapped together well and each given a somewhat considered ranking in the Jobs pool. (And for those of us who don't park outside Cupertino with a surveillance van, a few surprises might lurk in the sequence as well).

Of course, if they'd combined the crazy rumors of Ballmer getting the heave-ho from Microsoft following the PR disaster of Vista and stalled Micro-Hoo! negotiations, and pegged him as Jobs' obvious, if in first name only, successor... well that would have at least been ballsy and quite a bit more entertaining.

In the end, however, while Jobs is no doubt worth billions in ever-fickle market cap to increasingly capricious investors -- perhaps more than any other CEO active today -- the whole topic still comes off as a little on the gossipy side of TMZ.

Besides, we all know Kaiser Jobso will just whip up a clone eventually anyway, and show these would be successors what succession really is... And like that -- boom! -- they'd be gone.