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Apple Won't Change Overnight, But it Will Eventually Change

08.25.2011
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While Apple's stock dropped 7% overnight with the announcement of Steve Jobs' departure from the CEO position, Apple's corporate culture and direction certainly won't change overnight.  In fact, you may have noticed that Tim Cook has been in the CEO position at Apple for most of the last 8 months after Jobs took his most recent leave of absence.  

You may have also noticed that Steve has been giving more and more of the spotlight at major Apple release events to Cook and company.  After his first two health-related departures, he's been well-aware of Apple's need for new leaders in the public eye.

Whether his health problems accelerated the decision or not, Jobs chose a good time for his first move away from the spotlight and primary leadership role.  There are estimates that the iPhone 5 will be announced in October, and if that's the case, then the event should be a slam dunk regardless of who delivers the news (assuming it has some exciting features planned).  It will be an excellent opportunity to prove to shareholders that Apple will survive (and thrive) without him.

Jobs Will Still Be Leading Apple


Let's not forget that Steve Jobs is only relinquishing his daily control of Apple.  Jobs has been named a chairman of the board and I can only imagine that if he's healthy he's going to be strongly influencing Apple's direction even from a lower position.  
                                           
Jobs has probably had a succession plan in his mind for a while now.  Tim Cook has been groomed for this position and I don't think it will benefit Apple in the long term if Jobs continues to play puppetmaster from the shadows—so I don't think he will.

                                     


Apple Will Still Slug it Out With Google


Along with no immediate changes to their vision, Apple will also not be changing their stance toward competitors anytime soon.  

Bob Evans wrote for Forbes.com:

"I also think that as Jobs handed over the CEO title yesterday to Tim Cook, Jobs did so knowing that his company would go forward with not only its customarily intense focus on consumers, but also with a clear understanding that for Apple, Google is public enemy #1."  --Bob Evans

Evans seems to think that Jobs had a feeling 10 months ago at an earnings report that Google would eventually try to compete with Apple on a more level field, and indeed Google is now the owner of a hardware maker: Motorola.  In that meeting 10 months ago, Jobs made a clear distinction between Google's philosophy for its mobile platform, and Apple's.

"I think that while Steve Jobs wanted Apple to be mindful of all of its primary competitors, he wanted his company to be acutely aware of the one company that he believed would pose the greatest long-term danger to Apple."  --Bob Evans referring to Google

                                                     

Looking Forward - Eventually, Apple Will Be Without Jobs


Sorry, that little heading made it sound like everyone at Apple would be getting fired.  :)  That's not the case of course.  In spite of the fact that Tim Cook has had off-and-on experience as Apple's CEO for the past three years, and in spite of the fact that Apple will still have all of its talented developers and marketers, people are still wondering what will happen when Jobs is finally  gone and Apple no longer has his renowned "vision."

Did he leave Apple a plan, like Hari Seldon's?  Will he be like the Augustus of Apple—building an empire that would smolder for centuries but never again burn as brightly as it did under their deified first-Caesar?  

There's no doubt that Apple has lost a great CEO today, and they will eventually lose this founding visionary forever.  In the coming years, Apple will require new visionaries if it wants to continue to compete with energy firms like Exxon/Mobil for a place atop the list of the world's most valuable companies.

There's no question that Tim Cook and some of these other new faces won't be able to fully replace the charisma and oratorical "magic" that Jobs has.

Maybe the one thing that Apple will miss most is their former CEO's attention to detail.  Read this quote from Vic Gundotra where the 'shades of yellow' refers to a letter in the logo of a Google iPhone app:

"But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday."
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