Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

Summary: Do you want to sell crappy phones and consumer electronics for the rest of your life, or do you want to leave Apple and change the world?

TOPICS: Apple, Mobility, Telcos

Dear Steve,

It's been many years since you and I had a serious chat. We were both young men, almost kids, and we both looked at the world through much younger eyes. But now, buddy, we gotta talk, man-to-man.

Friday's event was deeply disturbing. There you were, up there on stage, mocking genuinely valid concerns over the fundamental performance of your flagship product, arrogantly denying credible analysis by some of the most reputable product testers on the planet, telling members of the press that you love your users so much that you've built 300 Apple retail stores just for them.

The whole thing was embarrassing. It was beneath you.

You have been one the most transformative figures in the history of American business, up there with Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and, yes, Bill Gates.

And now, this is how you're spending your time? Complaining that everyone's ganging up on you because you're so special? Talking back to regular consumers at 3am? Chastising them because they're holding their phones wrong?

You are an iconic American figure. You are an American strategic asset. Yet, here you are, arguing with people about whether you can make enough bumpers to fix the undeniable antenna problem you refuse to admit exists.

Bumpers? Is this what your reality has distorted into?

It certainly shouldn't be how people think of you. Look at Bill Gates. Bill is out there helping to cure sickness and disease, poverty and hunger, working to find ways of producing alternative energy systems and trying the save the world from almost-certain darkness. Bill has become one of the world's leading philanthropists, probably the most generous and effective in the history of the mankind.

By comparison, you're spending your days (and, apparently, your nights) arguing with consumers who bought a $200 phone and complaining that Consumer Reports doesn't know how to test consumer products.

Do you see a difference?

It's time for you to step down, retire, and let others deal with the day-to-day challenges of running Apple. Phil Schiller is certainly a reasonable capable manager. Let him do it.

All this iPhone stuff can't be healthy for you. It's got to be stressful. You need to preserve your reputation and apply your leadership to things that matter.

Almost 30 years ago, John Scully was at Pepsi and you asked him, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

So, Steve, here's the question I ask you: "Do you want to sell crappy phones and consumer electronics for the rest of your life, or do you want to leave Apple and change the world?"

Think about it.

Topics: Apple, Mobility, Telcos


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

    Nice this has to be one of the best articles. I have read in regards to Apple. I think stevey needs to pay attention to this one.
    • Where are the lines of people returning iPhones?

      @MLHACK ... It's all well and good to have bloggers on ZDNet who are pro-Microsoft partisans criticizing this iPhone defect. How many of them bought iPhones? How many of them bought iPhones and then returned them?
      I saw somewhere a < 2% return rate for the phones. Which means a 98% satisfaction rate.
      Jobs should retire because his "flagship" product (I dispute this) satisfies only 98% of customers?
      Whatever you're smoking, break me off some of that.
      • NonZealot, I found some double standards...

        You presume a 98% satisfaction rate based on a <2% return rate?

        I hardly believe you'd apply the same logic to Windows' return rate... remember, EVERYONE hates Windows, but evidently they're also satisfied since it's rarely returned based on the merits of the OS itself.
      • Jobs

        @HollywoodDog ... was named by Harvard Business Review as CEO of the decade. At a time when Microsoft has floundered, it's stock has stagnated, and has been beset by a long series of failures, Apple stock price has soared and computer market share is now up to 10% from something like 2% when Jobs returned.
        Yes, if someone is dissatisfied with iPhone they can return it no questions asked. Try to return Windows to the store and see how far you get. But yeah, those who purchase windows and don't return it count as satisfied. I haven't purchased a copy of Windows in 10 years. I only use it because it's forced on me by the IT department at work.
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @HollywoodDog - as you point out, Apple's % of the US PC market has finally reached 10%, from a mere 2% back in 1996. So, it took Jobs 14 years to gain 8% of the US PC marketplace - that's almost .6% a year . AWESOME! At that rate of increase, we should see Apple achieve 20% marketshare by around 2024 ... by that time, Jobs will be either retired or dead. Hopefully the former.

        The problem is that Apple exists on the cult of Jobs. If and when Jobs retires, Apple will begin a steady decline into oblivion once more.
      • Have you ever tried to grow a place for your product

        when the competitor holds as much as 98% of the market? Its a world of difference when there are several out there each with shares amounting from as low as a couple to several with teen percentage number and a few with low 20's but to take on one giant with as high a number as 98% and claw your way to double digits is nothing short of a miracle. Especially when you consider the margins Apple makes they are not fighting on price or even features they are taking the most difficult route possible or imagined and they are doing it! Truly AMAZING!!!

        Here you are trying to belittle this miracle.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @James Quinn

        I don't know about any miracle. Apple had themselves to blame for not being the top dog in personal computing. They wanted both the hardware and software which was the cause of their downward spiral.

        History seems to be repeating itself, only this time with Google and it's android OS.
      • Investors want profits, not 'market share'

        @HollywoodDog ... growing the Mac business to 10% market share is no small feat, but keep in mind that what he's siphoning off is the cream of the crop. Not all customers are created equal. Most are "Lauren" stype cheapskates whose prime objective is to pay as little as possible. This is not the market Mac is after.
        Mac is after the creative class, the moneyed class, the people who have other concerns than price and are generally willing to pay a stiff premium for what they want.
        While Jobs deserves credit for taking 10% of the PC market, he deserves more credit for taking away the most desirable PC customers, and deserves even more credit for returning 1500-some-odd percent to shareholders.
        Ballmer has bumbled along without any stock price increase in a decade; returning a dividend but not building value and not building anything that could be a viable future business. He's just going to hang around as long as ego demands and then leave the bag of snakes for a younger generation to try to untangle.
        Anyone who pretends to know what will happen with Apple when Jobs leaves is blowing smoke.
        What Jobs has done for the world is demonstrate that contrary to Gates' assertions, the best platforms are not all software and commodity hardware from whatever manufacturer, but rather tightly integrated hardware and software that work better and constitute singular design.
        Microsoft's era was 1982-1999. It's over.
      • Which is the better business model I wonder?

        Apple has ALWAYS made with everything thing it has sold a good solid profit. Never given away things like the XBox and as I understand it XBox is still to this day a profit question for MS. Even when Apple was at it's worst it has BILLIONS in reserves. A reserve that keeps getting bigger and bigger I might add. Now they have gained market share but to be honest I think Apple has proven time and again that market share is not the end all to be all.

        As for Android that so remains to be seen. I suspect that if you are short sighted you will assume that Android has won because X amount of vendors sell in combination Y amount of phones with Android on it. However lets look at it this way and ask which would I rather have? Apple sells X amount of iPhones at Y amount of profit. Moto sells Z amount of Android phones and makes W amount of profit. Which would your rather have?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Oh look, HolywoodDog had to bring up MS (Again)

        I guess he has no real response anymore, his only defense is to somehow bring MS in on it.
        HollywoodDog's era was 10:00am-12:47pm.

        It's over
        John Zern
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @ John Zern<br><br>Try actually reading. Ericesque brought up MS, not HD. You were saying?
      • Master Joe Says...Nothing Given Away?

        To the comment below, suggesting Apple has never given anything away, are you sure? I happen to recall quite a few promotions where, if you bought a MacBook, they gave you a printer and an iPod for FREE. That isn't giving something away? You could suggest that it is built into the price, but so is just about anything considering the cost of the hardware vs. what you actually pay for taht hardware. Also, 10% of the market on HARDWARE, not software. There may be 10% market share of people who buy computers buying Apple (not because it's better, in most cases, mind you), but Windows is still the OS with over 90% of the market share. Mac has about, what now, 3%? Microsoft doesn't make computers. Don't combine the hardware and software to distort the figures. Call it the way it is.

        --Master Joe
      • Actually,

        When it comes to inkjet printers I'm certain Apple looses not a thing. The printer itself makes no one money it's the ink cartridges that is where to money is and Apple represents a huge bundle market for a printer manufacturer especially during back to school days. So I'm SURE Apple likely gets them on the cheep perhaps even free. After all the bundles ink cartridges are often half empty already. Now not sure how Apple does it on the iPods but Apple makes money on song sales as well so that is a factor to consider.. in the case of the touch there is movie, apps, and TV shows as well. Now as for market share are we talking world wide or US. In the US it's around 10% for Apple now. World wide I think it's over 3 which is good considering a few years ago it was less than a full 2. So on both fronts Apple is doing well. Very well I'd say.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        The answer is clear. The reason the return rate has been relativley low is that buyers of iPhone 4s were waiting for instructions from the anointed one and now he has spoken. If Jobs had said that the iPhone 4 is defective and that users should return them and that once Apple fixes the problem, they can get a special deal to buy them again, millions of iPhones would have been returned.

        But he didn't do the right thing. Instead he cotinued to spread the deception.

        David Gerwitz is rignt. Jobs needs to let a sane person run Apple. He can do better things for society. And his ego would be satisfied with that. It is time for him to retire.
        • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!


          Where did you get this ficticous 10 % share number. Try 4 %. Share is not the sales on any given day. Remember the installed base.
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @HollywoodDog just because you didn't return the phone does not mean you are satisfied with it.
      • If it were just HollywoodDog I'd agree....

        Still the facts are the facts very few have returned the iPhone 4 even though they can do it without any expense to them so "IF" they are dissatisfied then they are weird to say the least or insane. Must be those switcher who just aren't use to being satisfied:)

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @ericesque [b]You presume a 98% satisfaction rate based on a <2% return rate?[/b]

        Sure, after all 2% of the people who bought the device were unsatisfied with it and returned it, ergo a 98% satisfaction rate. And not everyone hates Windows... Windows 7 rocks!
      • RE: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

        @Pagan jim

        Actually the XBOX 360 has turned a hardware profit about 3 or so years now. The PS3 on the other hand just became profitable this year I believe, they were hemorrhaging a few hundred dollars per console sold. And the Wii has be profitable out of the gate, but its also the most underpowered of the 3. Hopefully Nintendo's next console steps into the HD era.
      • No

        @HollywoodDog Well that would mean that Windows Vista was better than the iPhone 3GS since it had a lower return rate right? The problem is that people are locked to AT&T, if their phone has issues, they are more likely to deal with them than to waste time returning the phone and then trying to pick out another one, especially if they are used to the iOS platform, changing platforms isn't easy for most people. Does it mean they are satisfied? No. Look at how many people were mad over vista? How many returned their computers to the store and went to by Apple machines? 1%? Does that mean Vista had a 99% Satisfaction rate? No. It means that all the other people couldn't be assed to return the computers and shop for something different and learn to use a different platform.