Can Apple survive without Jobs?

Can Apple survive without Jobs?

Summary: Yesterday Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that he was taking another medical leave of absence, and within moments the blogosphere erupted into a cacophony of noise. But one statement seemed to rise above the overall noise more than others - Apple can't survive without Steve Jobs.

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Yesterday Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that he was taking another medical leave of absence, and within moments the blogosphere erupted into a cacophony of noise. But one statement seemed to rise above the overall noise more than others - Apple can't survive without Steve Jobs.

I'm not going to speculate at all about what's behind this latest medical leave of absence. Jobs asked for privacy, and I respect that. What I will do is speculate about the effect that this will have on Apple, and what effect Jobs stepping down as CEO might have in the short, medium and long term.

Let's start with the obvious. Apple is in good shape. Excellent shape. Jobs has during his latest tenure as CEO overseen some remarkable game-changers - the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad. These products have propelled Apple from being a niche computer manufacturer into the number one household consumer electronics brand.

There's no doubt that Jobs played a big part in shaping Apple and helping it grow beyond that early base of cult followers and taking the company mainstream and beyond. Like Apple or not, you can't dismiss the impact that the company has had on consumer electronics, music and movies. Jobs has done a marvelous job as CEO, and whether you own any Apple products or not, I'm certain that in some way Apple's vision will have shaped and influenced some of the tech you have in your life. Apple shareholders should especially be grateful for the work he's done and the effort he's put into Apple.

So, given that Jobs has done so much for Apple, are the pundits right? Is Apple doomed without Jobs?

In a word, no.

The pundits who think that Apple is doomed without Jobs are thinking of the old Apple, the fanboyism and the whole 'Cult of Apple" thing. Sure, there are developers and consumer (and pundits, I'm sure) who hang on to every word uttered by Jobs at keynotes and financial conference calls, but if you take in the bigger picture it's easy to see that Apple has outgrown these beginnings. People don't stream into Apple's retail and virtual stores because Steve Jobs tells them to. They don't buy apps and music and movies because Steve Jobs tells them to. People buy Apple products because Apple is a powerful brand. It's also fair to say that the vast majority of people buying Apple products don't know much about, or care much about, Steve Jobs.

This obsession with Jobs and how he is the keystone of Apple exists primarily in the minds of some pundits and investors. Consumers as a whole don't care.

Sure, I'll admit that keynotes wouldn't be the same without Jobs, but the idea that the company can't run without him is ludicrous. Jobs took medical leave of absence during 2004 and for the most of 2009, leaving Tim Cook both times, and the compony continued to operate as normal. Apple didn't implode. People didn't shun iPods and iPhones. In fact, Apple has some strong results those years.

All this is not to say that investors wouldn't be spooked by Steve Jobs standing down as CEO. The fact that Jobs announced that he was on medical leave of absence on a Federal holiday when the markets were closed and the day before earnings announcement is evidence enough that Apple is aware of how easily panicked investors are by any negative news related to Jobs. Some investors had already been calling for Apple to outline a clear CEO succession plan.

We've yet to see what effect yesterday's announcement will have on Apple share price, but it Jobs were to step down I'd expect share price to drop between 10 - 25% (I don't own any Apple stock, so I don't lose any sleep over this). But I'd also expect Apple to recover within a few months as investors became reassured that it was business as usual at Apple.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jason O'Grady's prediction for Apple:

I think that Apple could be a $500 stock and split within a year. Its fundamental are rock-solid and it has a full year lead on its competition in many areas. Hypothetically, if Jobs had to be replaced tomorrow, a complete imbecile couldn’t stop Apple’s rocket-like trajectory for 3-5 years. And if someone halfway decent replaced Jobs, Apple could continue to dominate for another 10-15 years. Easy.

With or without Jobs at the helm, Apple isn't going anywhere.

[UPDATE: AAPL stock opened today nearly 5% down, but this is still higher than it started the year at on January 3rd.]

Topics: IT Employment, Apple, Banking

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67 comments
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  • It's not whether people will shun Apple because Jobs is gone.

    It's whether Apple can continue to innovate without him. Absent innovation I can see AAPL dropping. And I am an AAPL investor.
    ye
    • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

      Can Apple Survive? I hope not.<br>I hate apple, I hate their products, I hate their software. Itunes in the worst PoS program ever made. Just look at the ipad: No Java, No Flash, No Multi-tasking, No Widescreen, No SD, No USB, No Multi-tasking. <br>The only thing that makes apple work is the horde of mindless apple zombies that buy apple's crap.<br><br>I'm a Mac and I'm a PC:<br>Mac: Hey PC, what's that Cool Game you're playing ? <br>PC: Sorry Mac, you can't play...<br><br>Mac: Hey PC, what's that neat business application you're running? <br>PC: Sorry Mac, you won't work... so go surf on facebook or something.<br><br>Mac: I've got this new Macbook Pro Laptop with an Intel i5 PC processor for $3000<br>PC: I have a new Laptop with an Intel i7 processor for $1500
      gtatransam@...
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @gtatransam@...
        Troll 101: It helps if you at least know the facts. To wit:
        No multitasking? Who told you that? In fact, the iPad multitasks just fine.
        No Flash? Apparently not many care. At all.
        No Widescreen? Widescreen displays fine, and 4:3 is better than 16:9 for devices of this type. It is NOT a TV. Maybe take a few classes in UI design before you opine uselessly?
        No SD? Um, can you say iPad camera connection kit?
        No USB? First, so what? What are you dying to connect, exactly? Second, there IS USB, via the 30-pin connector. ANY hardware manufacturer is welcome to write drivers and use it.

        As to the rest, great, Windows has lots of games. Are you claiming it is a console (i.e.toy)? Being that I can run ALL of them on my mac, so what? Being that almost all high-level games bypass the OS, almost entirely, again, so what? It certainly is not a complement to the core OS.

        Please name the specific business application to which you are referring in your parody.

        And please post a SPECIFIC core i7 model with specs so you can be educated about hardware equivalency.
        DeusXMachina
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @gtatransam@...
        ""Please name the specific business application to which you are referring in your parody.""

        MICROSOFT Visual Basic, Access 2000, Access 2010, both with the required VBA language.

        Without the above, how can Mac OS be of any use? I assume it can browse to Facebook. that is cool, but not too usefull.
        Daveyk01
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        I disagree...Jobs is Apple. I beleive people do care about Steve Jobs, he epitomises everything that is Apple. He is as much a symbol for Apple as the Apple itself. Yes, Jobs has turned Apple around in a major way with its domination in the consumer electronics market, but to think Apple would be survive without him, I think initially yes, but in the long run the visionary that is Jobs, would be lost and Apple would suffer.
        stedman1
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @Daveyk01

        "MICROSOFT Visual Basic, Access 2000, Access 2010, both with the required VBA language."

        Visual basic is NOT in any way a business application, it is programming environment, and not a particularly good one. Also, bringing up a legacy app with vendor lock in is not an applicable complaint. FileMaker and MySQL are far more functional, more than competitive products.
        And again, VB? Really?!?

        "Without the above, how can Mac OS be of any use?"

        Um, hate to break it to you, but the number of businesses beholden to VB is minuscule, and again, is not much of a retort. Porting existing databases over to fileMaker or any number of other OSX databases is mostly trivial.

        "I assume it can browse to Facebook. that is cool, but not too usefull" [sic].

        Thank you for making your COMPLETE ignorance of OSX so clearly evident.

        And BTW, I know a LOT of people with Windows who don't use Access, either. According to you, they must not be able to get any work done.
        DeusXMachina
      • Get a life Dude.

        @gtatransam@...
        GeoffMichael
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @gtatransam@...

        Oh look another Mac bashing M$ fanboy... Golly you are exactly right. My mac was way too expensive and i can't hardly do anything with this PoS! I wish I had a poorly made PC that I could pour time and money into just to keep it safe and running well. These dang Macs hardly ever make me fix or worry about anything. I hate all this extra free time to do normal things like make friends or go outside...
        bkblake
      • @bkblake: You should get yourself a WP7 then!!

        [i]These dang Macs hardly ever make me fix or worry about anything. I hate all this extra free time to do normal things like make friends or go outside...[/i]

        Why would you want to own a computer that you [b]didn't[/b] want to use very much? Shouldn't you want to use your computer as much as possible? Shouldn't your computer be so good that you get addicted to using it?

        After all, this is the Apple zealot attack on the WP7 advertising because MS is advertising WP7 as a phone that is so efficient, that you'll use it less often and that you'll have extra free time to do normal things like make friends or go outside.

        Cue the double standards...
        NonZealot
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @gtatransam@... If you don't like apple, don't buy their products but don't bash what you don't know. Although not an expert by any means; I can tell you as a long term windows user, I purchased an iPad and I absolutely LOVE it!!! After months of frustrating crashes, slow downs, etc., I purchased a MacBook Pro. It is not only a work of art, it works and works very well. No slowdowns, no BSOD's, etc. I still have a win7 desktop and I cant wait to get a Mac desktop! You really don't know what you are missing! :)

        Ron
        rrnh1@...
    • True

      @ye I have to do the bloody comparison to Google because both are inovative companies today. Google insists that every employee spend a piece of workday time on projects that have nothing to do with their workload. They want to inspire innovation from every corner of the company. Is Apple structured that way or is it my way or the highway. Both work as long as the innovators are part of the company. Without those people you just become a big machine like MS, IBM and HP.
      LarsDennert
    • The real question is can the trolls survive without Jobs...

      @ye

      Jobs didn't design the products. He didn't write the code nor engineer the design. He hired and groomed an insane talent pool and set them in motion. Yes, Steve Jobs is an incredible mouthpiece for Apple, and he runs a tight ship, and some great business savvy, but that's it. All the same players will still be playing the game. Apple will continue to innovate under Tim Cook, and continue to design under Ives, and it will be business as usual.

      I have no doubt that Apple will continue to thrill and delight consumers. But I can't help wondering, will the opposition be like without a Steve Jobs to hate? Where will all the hate and cult rhetoric go? Will Tim cook become the next scapegoat? Will the anti-apple-tards say that people who love a superior product and experience only feel that way because Cook told them too??? One thing is certain; this will be a major lesson in cognitive dissonance for all the Apple haters. As far as the stock is concerned, the growth potential Apple has right now is phenomenal.
      i8thecat
  • I can picture Steve Jobs rolling out iPhone 5

    ...in a wheel chair. Anyway, Steve Jobs is strategically linked to the Company. The fact that he is the one who returned it to profitability, has the final say on all products. How is the Company gonna do without that leadership, input, attention to detail? Even Jonathan Ive needs him for the vision of what a product needs to be, Ive is just the tool that engineers the design, more like a muse. Of course, I can picture an Apple without Steve Jobs running the same products in the next generation iteration probably for another 3 years, but what happens when the innovation slows down because the visionary is not there to create the magic anymore? Its the big different with Microsoft, Gates obviously saw that his input wasn't necessary since the Company was capable of doing things on their own without the babysitting.

    Without Jobs, Apple is just a headless body.
    Mr. Dee
    • Jobs is a smart guy

      @Mr. Dee

      I'm pretty sure that by now, he has trained no less than 3 people for his eventual replacement.
      wackoae
      • You can't train vision.

        @wackoae: It's something that comes natural. About all he could do is to try and identify individuals with strong vision.
        ye
      • I'm in agreement with Ye

        @wackoae

        After all, look at post-Gates Microsoft. Ballmer has turned the company into a joke to say the least, with the idiotic clown that he is.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @Cylon Centurion 0005

        Win7, office 2010, 360, Kinect... All during Ballmer's tenure.
        rtk
      • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

        @wackoae <br>One smart, strong and visionary personality must be replaced by only one another personality equally smart, strong and visionary if not better. Three such people will tend to pull the company in different directions ...!!!<br><br>Ram
        ram.bhagwat
  • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

    Apple will survive without Steve Jobs but they won't have near the following they have now.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Can Apple survive without Jobs?

      @Loverock Davidson<br><br>Based on what, pray tell?<br>Or are we just supposed to accept your pronouncements because of the authority of the source? In which case, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br><br>(deep breath)<br><br>HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA<br>AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
      DeusXMachina