Fortune’s tunnel vision

The July 26, 2010 issue of Fortune contains the cover line: The Ten Smartest People in Tech. I turned to page 82, curious to see where Research In Motion co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie ranked.

Hmm, not under Smartest CEO. That designation went to Steve Jobs of Apple. Not Smartest Founder, which was Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Those are good choices, but neither man from RIM was even named as one of the four runners-up in those categories.

In fact, Lazaridis and Balsillie did not appear anywhere on the 50-member honors list that has a winner and four runners-up in each of the ten categories. Despite Fortune’s purported interest in the global economy (the issue also features the magazine’s Global 500 ranking) the list is oddly U.S.-centric. The only obvious ringer is Canadian director James Cameron whose film Avatar brought him the Smartest Hybrid title.

Then again, for all their vaunted world view Americans can be pretty provincial, can’t they? Members of Congress, for example, vote for free trade but then erect as many protectionist hurdles as possible to frustrate companies who want to export goods to the United States. Fortune has fallen into the same narrow-minded thinking as those analysts who praise Apple’s financial results and dismiss RIM’s success despite the fact that BlackBerry remains the top-selling smartphone in North America.

Oh well, Mike and Jim can take some solace from the fact that Bill Gates didn’t make the Smartest People list, either.

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