Interesting Times Ahead for Apple

Apple Introduces New Versions Of The iMac Computer And  iLife Applications

As we surmised previously, Steve Jobs’ health was more involved than disclosed. He announced this week that he is taking a six month medical leave.

Jobs said:

Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

His surprise at the “curiosity” over his health is at best naive, and is rather quite arrogant. Jobs is the founder, CEO and charismatic leader of one of the pioneers in the computer industry. Many Apple product users have near religious devotion to the company and its products.

And Jobs appropriately gets much of the credit for the success the company has achieved over the last ten years. Of course, people are concerned about Jobs health (and not just Apple fanboys).

COO Tim Cook will fill in during Jobs’ absence, as he did when Jobs went on leave during 2004 for his first bout with pancreatic cancer.

By all accounts, Cook has fantastic operational abilities, a keen analytical mind, and a bias for proper execution. Given the difficult macro economic climate, he may well be just what Apple Inc needs for the next few months. In increased focus on operations may serve Apple well in the recession.

But Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. He does not have the vision or the drive for product excellence that brought Apple back from the brink of death.

iPhone Goes On General Sale In Tokyo

I spent the bulk of the 90’s in the Apple Computer industry (at Bottom Line Distribution, Fusion Data Systems, Power Computing, and TechWorks). I watched the parade of CEOs go through Apple.

Many had solid strategic plans and good operational instincts. But none of them could truly lead Apple. Different teams within Apple worked towards different ends. The products were boring, and few people like the idea of paying a premium for boring.

Then Steve Jobs came back via the NeXT Computer acquisition. His strategic plans weren’t anything particularly special, but the troops under him all lined up and marched the same direction.

And soon, the products didn’t suck so bad. And after a while, they got pretty good. Eventually, truly innovative things like the iPod and iPhone came out, and Apple was cool again. In fact, it was cool in a way it never truly had been.

The credit for that rests squarely on Steve Jobs shoulders.

I think Apple will be fine for the next few months under Cook. What worries me is what happens if six months turns into a year? Or two years? Or a permanent retirement?

1 Comment on “Interesting Times Ahead for Apple

  1. Paul G.

    Well well…we wuz right all along…here’s some CNBC faldoo-rah with “Fake Steve Jobs” talking all over dummy bureau reporter at CNBC in Silly-cone valley for believing what he’s told…


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