Apple: The next generation

Apple: The next generation

Summary: Can Apple continue in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, or should they forge their own new direction?

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Apple: The next generationIn 1997, Steve Jobs returned to the floundering company he helped found, and turned it into one of the most successful tech companies in history. His recent passing leaves a huge void, as Apple had become an extension of his uncompromising drive and vision.

Steve Jobs had laser-like focus. There are numerous stories about his foibles as a person, but there can be no denying that he made a nearly superhuman effort to create technology that was both attractive as well as functional. I've posited that maybe his personality was required to accomplish what he did in the short time he was with Apple.

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The question that people have been asking since Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO in August is, "How will Apple continue with Steve gone?" Well, there are rumors that Steve Jobs left a four-year product roadmap before he died. Also, Steve set up a training program to teach company executives how to think like him.

Apple still has Jonathan Ive, the industrial designer at Apple whose sense of aesthetics and simple elegance mirrored those of Steve Jobs. Even with that major advantage, however, I don't believe that a product roadmap and training program will be able to duplicate the will and imagination of Steve Jobs.

Tim Cook is an excellent administrator, and streamlined the business processes of Apple into a finely-tuned, well-oiled machine. But that's not the same thing as a man who eschewed focus groups and made himself the customer that Apple made products for. Steve Jobs wasn't afraid to be uncompromising. He wasn't afraid to say no to something he didn't like. And he demanded the best efforts from his employees. If he felt that someone hadn't put their all into developing a product, he wouldn't even look at it. He would just send them back to try again.

There are, of course, stories about what happened at Apple when Steve wasn't directly involved in the entire product development process. The MobileMe incident, which resulted in Jobs berating the development team and replacing the executive in charge, is well-known. The most successful products from Apple were directly supervised by Steve Jobs, and his imprint can be felt in the quality of those products.

So where does Apple go from here? They're still the most successful computer company in the world. They made some of the most popular consumer technology in history; game-changing technology that improved existing devices in ways that no one else had conceived of before. Can they keep that momentum without Steve Jobs?

I don't think there is any one person in the world that could embody all of the different qualities and quirks of Steve Jobs that made him so successful. Jony Ive is there for product design. Tim Cook keeps things running smoothly, but I don't see him as being the passionate, crazy, rude visionary that Steve Jobs was. They need one more person that can fill that void. Someone that can be that focus group. Someone that can browbeat the employees into giving their all. Someone that isn't afraid to take chances, and keep saying no until a product is ready to ship.

Is there someone out there like that? Someone already working at Apple, waiting to be noticed? Or someone on the outside that we don't know yet? Unless Apple can find this "missing link", they may need to reconsider their strategy. Instead of trying to be Team Steve, maybe they should consider forging their own new path for the future.

See also:

ZDNet RoundupSteve Jobs tribute

Topics: Apple, CXO, Enterprise Software

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39 comments
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  • I don't think Bill Gates would work for Apple

    "Is there someone out there like that?"

    He is too busy doing humanitarian work that Steve Jobs was too selfish to do.
    toddybottom
    • Are not you trolling? Jobs was never selfish, he signed Apple to become ...

      @toddybottom: ... single biggest contributor of Red Product charity program. And he contributed personally in private.

      Also Gates has nothing to do with the future of Apple's management anyway.
      DDERSSS
      • Jobs was very selfish

        @DeRSSS
        He never contributed anything personally in private.

        And I agree that Gates will have nothing to do with Apple. I put it right in my subject line. Too bad because Apple would benefit from having someone like Gates at the helm.

        Still, I am more upbeat on Tim Cook. I think he is a fine leader. He has already proven himself to be far more generous than Jobs by starting a charity program at Apple. Under Job's leadership, Apple didn't give back to the community at all.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @toddybottom So, you were Jobs' toilet cleaner? you seem to know a lot about his personal life..
        browser.
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @DeRSSS

        LOL... silly troll. "Jobs was never selfish"...

        http://money.cnn.com/2008/03/02/news/companies/elkind_jobs.fortune/index2.htm

        [i]"When Jobs had his own illegitimate child, also at the age of 23, he too struggled with his responsibilities. For two years, though already wealthy, he denied paternity while Lisa's mother went on welfare. At one point Jobs even swore in a signed court document that he couldn't be Lisa's father..."[/i]
        UrNotPayingAttention
    • Gates?

      @toddybottom
      cme on, Gates is just not in the same league, he only will be remembered for creating a monopoly using the dirtiest tactics.
      He retired when he realized the game was going too fast fot him (Internet? internet is a fad...)
      theo_durcan
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @theo_durcan Jobs gets his well deserved props for figuring out GUI was the way to go. Similar to Jobs "stealing" Xerox's GUI, Gates "stole" Jobs GUI. Gates's GUI is what the vast majority people for a ten year period actually used and millions and millions still use today. Jobs put the internet on the mobile Gates after figuring out he made a big mistake with that Internet thing got the vast majority of people using it via IE 5 years before Jobs put it in mobile. And in 2011 IE is a shrinking but still pretty big deal. And oh yeah, pretty much most of the worlds businesses run on Gates's Office software. But Gates to Apple no way different culture completely. While both were selfish monopolistic (pick your own word we can't use here) I am glad both were born
        edkollin
    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @toddybottom
      funny... Bill Gates purposefully sets up his philanthropy for his own personal recognition... puts hiw name on everything and loves how people call him such a great guy. Its great he does some stuff to help out, but his motives are not as pure as you suggest. I think much higher of the people who never talk about what they do.... they do it because they really care and want to help, and do not want any recognition for it.
      doh123
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @doh123 Does he has the option to remain obscure? Don't think so. And in whatever way he does it, it still beats the anonymous persons that can only nag about it online.
        belli_bettens@...
    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @toddybottom - You are absolutely correct! Of course, we must bear in mind that Jobs still WORKED for Apple, while Gates QUIT WORKING with Microsoft (handed off to bumbling Ballmer) to be be the richest "Humanitarian". I find it sad that the Gates Foundation is not pro-American, and is trying to save the WORLD - ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT - EQUALITY FOR ALL. Can you say ~C~O~M~M~U~N~I~S~M~? Perhaps you should investigate AGENDA 21 - it's all there...
      TampaBri
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    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @toddybottom
      Personally, I think Gates could have done more good in the world by staying with MS instead of leaving it to run a charity organization. After he left, MS was stagnant for a decade. Despite having a lot more resources, MS was getting beaten by competitors. Only recently has the company started to do some innovation.

      If he stayed, he would have kept the company off Ballmer and maybe would have bought a lot of great tech to the market benefiting a lot more people.

      Also, I wouldn't call someone selfish if they're working for $1 per year to move tech forward. Again, I'll reiterate my view. Bringing better technology to the world benefits the world more than giving away $30 billion dollars (which works out to be less than $5 per person).
      anono
  • Isn't Scott Forstall that guy?

    rumor has it he's a "mini Jobs" in reference to attitude about those around him.
    William Farrell
    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @William Farrell
      i Agree in in reference to attitude about those around him...Thanks!
      arcondicionado01
    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @William Farrell - Yes - RUMOR. MY rumor has it that Melinda runs the show, and Bill is nothing but a mini George Soros...
      TampaBri
  • RE: Apple: The next generation

    I hope they do go a new, more consumer friendly, direction...<br><br>I Don't mean cheap or Open, just less restrictive than under jobs.

    Amazon did the DRm Free thing first.
    slickjim
    • RE: Apple: The next generation

      @Peter Perry

      Without Apple and Jobs, would we have access to DRM free music today?

      It took the bargaining power of iTunes to break the model content providers wanted, without that companies like Sony would still be installing rootkits.
      bannedagain
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @bannedagain Yes, thanks to Amazon, who did it first and that is why I use them...<br><br>Apple caved to the pressure of losing sales to Amazon.
        slickjim
      • RE: Apple: The next generation

        @bannedagain Yes, thanks to Amazon, who did it first and that is why I use them...<br><br>Apple caved to the pressure of losing sales to Amazon.
        slickjim
  • I see this as a no win for the new CEO

    Success will be credited directly to Steve Jobs. Failure will be credited to the new CEO failing to properly follow Steve Jobs. I do not think Apple will change course unless and until it is greatly humbled by the stock market.
    oncall