Friday, August 26, 2011
Editorial: Apple Without Steve Jobs
If you haven't heard the news yet, it's time you did. Steve Jobs stepped down from his position of CEO, and instead opted for a lesser title of Chairman of the Board. He didn't die, and as far as we all know, he doesn't have cancer. But he's older, weaker and thinner. He isn't as fast as he used to be, and the CEO job just isn't working out anymore. Not only that, but the company needs stability and assurance for when that day comes when unfortunately, Steve will no longer be around. As much as we like to deny it, the world only gets one Steve Jobs. And unfortunately, if his condition (whatever it may be) is any indiction- he's a spent force.
The job of CEO is a stressful one, for any company. Then imagine being CEO of Apple. How exhausting must that be? You'd need to be cold, calculating, innovating and capable of dealing with loads of stress and pressure. Sure, Apple's been doing amazingly well lately. Hell, they just re-invented the tablet computer, and they launched the smartphone business full steam ahead. Apple's products are selling like hotcakes- even though the prices really aren't as affordable as the competition. After what is approaching only a year and a half, Apple's iPad is still the number one tablet "PC" on the market. And honestly, the competition is trying too hard to mimic the product. But that discussion is for another time and place. Again, Apple is doing amazingly well- better than any technology company on the planet, and for a brief moment, even better than Exxon Mobil.
Some may argue that Steve Job's is the only innovator behind Apple and if his presence were to cease, the company would dive down like an angry flock of vultures. But honestly, this isn't even close to true. Sure, Tim Cook isn't Steve Jobs, and he's not really the innovation type as far as we know. That's what Johnny Ive is for and Phil Schiller and all the other creative people down at Apple HQ. Still, the world and the company will never be the same when Steve does pass away, which hopefully is many years from now.
The way in which Apple looks and operates years from now is not too soon to change. They will always be that creative, evangelistic, powerful and innovative company we have come to know and love. That's just the way that Apple is. Sure, Steve's departure in 1986 didn't fare well for the company. But they were in a totally different situation. The executive's keeping the company alive wasted money in useless and troublesome products that appealed to neither the consumer nor the businessman. There were too many products, a problem that's all about control.
The products didn't compete either, and they lost the fun and excitement Steve brought to the table before. As a direct result of that, the company slipped under and by 1996, there were talks of bankruptcy. And then, miraculously, Steve Job's jumped into the picture and waved his magical wand of smart business man power and turned the company around completely.
The useless products were dropped, and the company focused only on four computer lines- consumer laptops and desktops and professional laptops and desktops. Then Apple changed the world with the iPod. It doesn't matter what MP3 player you are using today, it was influenced by the iPod. Then Apple changed the wheel again with the iPhone in 2007. How can you imagine a world without your smartphone? In the heat 0f fame and power, Apple did it again with the iPad, which took the world by storm and is currently killing the entire PC industry. Meanwhile, all the other companies are kicking themselves wondering why they never thought of that. And in the future, Apple will continue to launch major changes to products, or invent products like they've done on every opportunity. With Tim Cook, Johnny Ive, Phil Schiller, Peter Oppenheimer and Scott Forestal turning the wheel and executing major strategic decisions, Apple will fare well.
Steve Jobs is a control freak, a perfectionist and a product-making genius. His brain is one of a quickly calculating, innovative and powerful breed. He really is like no other man. He's arrogant, and that arrogance really just helps to make for a better boss who really, in the end, knows better than everybody else. That's an issue Apple is going to have to get used to. The idea of losing Steve, although extremely difficult to imagine, will happen one day. It's a sad, empty feeling. Things will simply never be the same.
We can't understand or begin to imagine a world without the genius that is Steve Jobs. And frankly, neither can Apple.