An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

Summary: It's too early to wonder whether Jobs' vision and DNA carries forward at Apple, but the questions are starting to be asked and they will get louder as the years go on.

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While the tech industry mourns, Apple begins its first day in the post Steve Jobs era. Perhaps it's too early to wonder whether Jobs' vision and DNA carries forward at Apple, but the questions are starting to be asked and they will get louder as the years go on.

Those answers may not come for decades.

More: Steve Jobs' big lesson: 'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish' | Tim Cook's email to employees on Jobs passing | Steve Jobs dies at 56 (roundup)

As noted previously, Jobs has set Apple's roadmap with CEO Tim Cook and key lieutenants for years to come. That roadmap included the launch of the iPhone 4S, a product launch that will take on a different meaning since Jobs passed at 56. Cook said:

Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Wall Street will eventually calculate what the loss of Jobs meant, but not necessarily today. Analysts’ reaction sounded as stunned as Apple customers and the industry.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note:

Jobs inspired not only the many Apple products that created new categories and changed the way people live, work and play, but he inspired other technology leaders to do the same. All the while, Jobs was developing perhaps his greatest accomplishment, Apple itself. We believe that Jobs' legacy includes his many great inventions as well as those people who now lead Apple and will carry on his way of creating the future.

We believe Jobs' final act as CEO was another of his many great accomplishments. Cook is capable of running Apple, but his rare combination of extreme humility and insatiable motivation make him uniquely suited to continue Jobs' work as CEO and carry on his vision with a peerless executive team. While there may be concerns among investors as to whether or not Cook can continue Jobs' streak of innovation, we believe there is no better candidate to lead the company Jobs co-founded.

Memorial for Steve Jobs at Apple Store in SF (photos)

Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes kept the same tone. Reitzes said:

We were able to observe Steve’s unmatched passion for his company and his inventions for several years at product launches. However, we also note how thoughtful he was to carefully mentor and leave his company in the capable hands of Cook and others. We believe Apple's innovation and product momentum can continue.

Other analysts also argued that Cook is quite capable.

Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland said in a research note:

We believe no other ecosystem comes close to the ease of use as Apple’s, which will continue to appeal to a large percentage of the masses. With only 228 operators distributing the iPhone and only 68 countries for the iPad, we believe there remain tremendous global expansion opportunities for Apple. In comparison, we believe RIM and Nokia distribute through ~600 operators. We believe Mr. Cook’s logistics capability will be key as Apple expands globally, furthering the company’s strong growth trajectory for years to come.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said:

Our simple answer is that Apple is his legacy just like Disney is Walt Disney’s and GE for Thomas Edison. It is the culture of innovation, thinking different, risk taking, and execution that will live on. In our view, the challenge and opportunity for Apple is to maintain this culture. The good news is that Steve has put a strong team in place to execute with Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive, Eddy Cue, Scott Forstall, Phil Schiller, Peter Oppenheimer, Bob Mansfield, to name a few.

Similar themes will emerge from Wall Street today. But rest assured the questions about Apple will be asked again. In fact, there were questions about Apple's mojo right after the iPhone 4S launch. They will return.

Time will tell if Jobs' greatest feat was creating an enduring legacy at Apple.

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Topics: Apple, CXO, Emerging Tech, IT Employment

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11 comments
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  • All the naysayers are morons

    What do you think Steve did after he gave up his CEO job? He's been making a long list of ideas for Tim to consider going forward for years? What else would he do? Would an innovator stop innovating? No way!

    I'm not a great innovator, but I know enough to keep Apple busy for many years. Many future innovations are intuitively obvious to me, and I'm sure Steve had more.

    So stop with the BS negativity already!
    ron.cleaver@...
    • Yeah they have momentum for awhile now

      @ron.cleaver@... I agree. They have a solid base to build on and I doubt we will see problems anytime soon.

      That said, time will tell if they can continue introducing new, innovative products.
      otaddy
    • RE: An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

      @ron.cleaver@... RIP Steve Jobs, your genius and innovation will certainly be missed. Ron Cleaver, you must read through different colored glasses. I saw nothing negative about the questions that were asked about what will happen to Apple now that he has passed. I think every person who is interested in tech would ask those questions. How will it affect Apple? That is not negative, it's just a question. Things will happen at Apple I don't think any of us can foresee; if you remember; it was Steve Jobs who saved Apple back in whatever year it was. No one else could do it. It is reasonable to think that Apple will most certainly change now that his brilliance is not involved. Again nothing negative, just an observation. He could no more put a list of things to keep Apple going on paper any more than Nostradamus could write a list of how to predict his next 10 predictions after he died. All the things Apple dominated the market with, already existed, computers, cell phones, mp3 players, tablet computers, the list goes on. It was Jobs' genius at seeing a new way to use them, or change them that can't be replaced.
      skudera@...
    • RE: An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

      @ron.cleaver@...

      if by "making a long list of ideas for Tim to consider going forward for years"...

      you mean writing on a piece of paper: "Give Jonathan Ive and his team freedom to do what they do... then once the product is finished, have the marketing group come up with buzzword language to sell it"

      ...then yeah, you're about right with that list.
      UrNotPayingAttention
  • RE: An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

    First of all, it is likely Jobs never created most of the resent stuff but worked with his team to create it. I mean, come on guys, Apple is a big company and one guy wasn't doing it all alone.

    Now with that said, what Apple will be missing is the Obsessive Attention to Refinement and Detail! Jobs worked out the details that others didn't see in a way that only an Artist could.

    You see, Jobs was no less an Artist than Picaso, Bach or Ansel Adams but his Medium was the Tech World instead of sheet music or canvas.
    slickjim
  • RE: An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

    I???m not an Apple fan as I never liked the closed system, depend on them, controlled approach of their products. However Steve Jobs was a visionary and marketing wizard like no other. His company made products easy for the non techie to purchase and use successfully.

    Will his creative legacy continue for decades? No, a few years maybe, then the infighting and position jockeys will surface and Apple will stray. It occurred once, some humans being what they are will make it happen again.

    Enjoy Steve???s legacy while you can. He will be missed.
    grafixpro
  • Iphone 4S Is Not A Good Start

    Remember, ideas are a dime a dozen, what counts is the execution. Steve Jobs isn't around to execute any more, so it doesn't matter how wonderful the plans are that he laid down, they're not going to become products with his stamp on them.

    We see this already with the Iphone 4S.
    ldo17
    • Seriously?

      @ldo17

      What, do you think the iPhone 4S cambe about in the 6 short weeks since Jobs stepped down as CEO? The iPhone 4S is not some lackluster product that is the result of a company without Steve Jobs at the helm.

      The iPhone 4S was designed, polished, tested, and approved to be released for manufacturing months ago. Ya know, to give the manufacturers time to build the damn things so they can be ready for an October launch?

      The iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Macbook weren't 'creations' of Jobs... they were designed by Jonathan Ive and his team and hundreds of people most of these bleeding hearts that have been proclaiming 'what a Messiah Steve Jobs was' all day today have never even heard of.
      UrNotPayingAttention
      • Re: Iphone 4S Is Not A Good Start

        @chmod 777 "The iPhone 4S is not some lackluster product that is the result of a company without Steve Jobs at the helm."

        I'd say it almost certainly is. It would have been developed over the last few months, while Jobs' health was already approaching terminal.
        ldo17
  • RE: An Apple question too early to answer: Will Jobs' vision remain?

    It's a bit early to tell right now. Steve would have surely have a long-term plan laid out. However, will Apple be able to react as well as it did to the fast-changing tech industry? Steve was a master at that. He was able to foresee and react accordingly. However. this side of the coin now lies solely with Tim Cook and his leadership and decision making skills.
    JMangotweets
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