‘What Would Jobs Do?’ Envisioning An Apple Without Steve
Amid the news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has again taken a medical leave, this time for an undetermined length of time, signs so far point to Jobs likely making a return to Apple sooner rather than later. But if that didn’t happen, could Apple function without a Steve Jobs? Before you panic and start selling your Apple stock, here’s some perspective …
Tim Cook, (pictured left) Apple’s COO, has done a fine job standing in for Jobs when Jobs couldn’t be there. He did it in 2004 when Jobs battled pancreatic cancer, and also was acting CEO in 2009 when Jobs received a liver transplant. Now, Cook is handling the day-to-day operations, much like he always did, with Jobs in the background. This time around could be less intensive for Cook, since The New York Times reports that Jobs is dealing with the immune system issues “common with people who have received liver transplants.” Recipients of a transplant may deal with health “ups and downs” and Jobs is now at the bottom of that roller-coaster, according to the Times, which also reports that Jobs had been avoiding eating lunch at the corporate cafeteria, instead remaining in his office. Likely, this is why Jobs wasn’t at the Apple/Verizon announcement.
But that prognosis, though saddening, has a silver lining, since Jobs likely will recover. Still, the ups and downs of a health issue can have a taxing effect on a person. What if Jobs was to retire early?
Cook and Jobs have a long history. Cook has been at Apple since 1998, just before Apple skyrocketed to technology superstardom with products like the iMac and, later, the iPod. Riding co-pilot for Apple’s biggest feats means that Cook understands Jobs’ mentality and arguably, is Jobs’ right-hand man for all things. I have no doubt Tim Cook could carry on Jobs’ vision easily. What people are more afraid of, I believe, is that we’ll lose a tenacious and daring figurehead who could make technology exciting. Tim Cook certainly does not have the same stage presence of Steve Jobs.
But what about that ‘vision’? Apple’s vision has been driven by Jobs, and I have no doubt Jobs has a roadmap planned out. But what happens in a post-Jobsian world, where we reach the end of the roadmap? Who will pick up the torch and carry it into the dark tunnel of new technology? Who will make sure that Apple products carry on the legacy and standards of their predecessors?
Don’t forget, we still have some passionate and innovative people at Apple. Jonathan Ive (pictured right) has been Apple’s principal designer since 1997, when Jobs anointed him the title. He’s responsible for the never-ending beautiful industrial designs we’ve seen Apple create, like the iPhone, the new MacBook Air line and nearly every other device Apple puts to market. His name is frequently next to Steven P. Jobs on many Apple patents.
Cook and Ive are a team that could continue Apple’s commanding presence should Jobs no longer hold the CEO position. What’s more, Jobs’ success story will leave a lasting legacy of how Apple should be run. His thought processes, corporate culture and decision-making are indelible to everyone, even Apple-outsiders. Anyone who assumes the CEO position in his footsteps most definitely will be asking, “What Would Jobs Do?”