Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

Moderated by Lawrence Dignan | October 24, 2011 -- 06:45 GMT (23:45 PDT)

Summary: Can Apple maintain its momentum in a post-Jobs world? Jason Hiner and Jason Perlow face off. Join the debate and cast your vote.

Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner

Stay the course

or

Must grow up

Jason Perlow

Jason Perlow

Best Argument: Must grow up

Closing Statements

Only imbeciles could derail Apple

Jason Hiner

While Apple will never be the same without Steve Jobs, the company has so much forward momentum that it would have to be run by a bunch of complete imbeciles to derail its progress over the next 2-3 years. Fortunately for Apple, it’s going to be run by Jobs’ hand-picked product leaders. As long as they stick around, Apple is likely to stay the course.

One of the things we’ve learned from Walter Isaacson’s biography is that over the past decade Steve Jobs wasn’t just trying to build great products, he was trying to build an innovation machine that would continue to create products at the intersection of technology and liberal arts for long after he bowed out of the company. If he did half as good of a job with the company-building as he did with the products, then Apple will be in good shape.

Apple must return from Neverland

Jason Perlow

Steve Jobs was the computer industry's embodiment of Peter Pan. He never wanted Apple to grow up. And that is what made him and his company special. "Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish" was a Jobsian-centric philosophy that worked well while he alone stayed at the center of the company's universe. But Steve Jobs is no longer with us.

Apple's management and engineering bench could always rely on Steve to bless every product release or major business decision. Now they will have to make the important decisions completely on their own.

The company must return from Neverland, without its Peter, and face the culture shock of leaving their traditional consumer-only comfort zone and entering new markets such as the enterprise in order to sustain growth.

Tim Cook may never be Steve Jobs. But he's a sharp businessman who plays well with others -- a requirement for building the framework of a harmonious Apple corporate culture that will last another three decades and beyond.

 

Perlow by a nose

Lawrence Dignan

This debate was tough for one reason---time frame. Depending on what time frame you consider, either Jason could be right. In a one to two year time frame, Hiner is probably correct and Apple will stay the course, thrive financially, deliver an iPad 3, iPhone 5 and a kick-butt TV.

In the long run, I'm with Perlow. Apple will have to change/adapt and be increasingly threatened. However, Apple could milk the enterprise and probably add another $50 billion in annual revenue in five years. I don't have a crystal ball for either time frame so I merely have to judge this debate. As far as illustrating his points and making the case, I'll give Perlow the win by a slim margin.

Doc's final thoughtsIN PARTNERSHIP WITH Ricoh

Doc

First of all, Doc is very confused because both sides of the debate are Jasons this round. Give an old guy a break. Couldn’t one of you just be Tony for the week?

To Jason H, you’re only partly right (or is it partly wrong?). Apple will, most likely, be fine for the foreseeable future. But don’t be so sure about the long-term prospects for the company. We’ve seen massive company failures plenty of times before in all kinds of markets. Today’s Apple is tomorrow’s Krispy Kreme, if you catch my drift.

And to Jason P, you’re wrong too (though you’re also right a little). Apple, can, indeed, continue on great toys alone. What’s wrong with great toys? Especially when they appeal to all generations and to a global market. I’d love to have my share of the electronic toy market. And Apple defines the space.

But I agree with you that Steve is an undeniable influence on the company. This will make it really tough for current leadership as everyone in the company will be asking the question “what would Steve do?” Well, at some point it can’t be about Steve anymore and will become about the new guy, who won’t be new by then.

Great companies are almost always about great leadership. We still have to see about the current crop of Apple executives – good odds, but still unproven in a post-Jobs environment. Good luck to them all. We need you.

Talkback

121 comments
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  • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

    The only reason Apple is still around is because of Steve Jobs and his ideas. Without Steve it is only a matter of time before they belly up
    grhaigh
    Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up
    • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

      @grhaigh You are incorrect.
      His_Shadow
      Reply Vote I'm for Stay the course
    • A lot of potential impacts

      @His_Shadow - nice rebuttal. Any chance of some definition or substance with that awesome statement? <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink"><br><br>@grhaigh - I doubt SJ left them hanging and has mapped out several plans and devices/upgrades for the future.<br>There are however a couple of things I see that can derail any prelaid plans from SJ.<br><br>1. Steve had believability with the Apple Board and Stockholders. If he said "wait!" they would. I am not sure if Tim and crew have the same level with this group. We will find out when the first negative blip impacts Apple.<br><br>2. However great the path forward is, it has a lot of difficulty dealing with the unknown. The collective OEM engineering pool is rapidly outdoing Apple. As they continue to move ahead (it's a numbers game folks), new hardware and functionality will come to the forefront that is not in SJ's current mapped plan. As time goes, it will become harder and harder for Apple to stick with the original mapped game plan.<br><br>I wish them luck.
      rhonin
      Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up
      • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

        rhonin update:<br>One other aspect I thought about afterward: Apple management is ripe for shopping. These folks are considered as some of the top minds and it would really surprise me if other companies did not take advantage of SJ's passing and look to hire away one or more.<br><br>There are some really deep pockets out there.
        rhonin
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Many companies have already tried to 'shop' Apple.

        @rhonin : From what I understand, Apple loyalty tends to be just as prevalent inside the company as it is with its customers. Of course, that depends on how 'tough' those employees are.

        Jobs, Cook and (I forget the one's name who starts with an 'S) all have similar personalities to each other. Each of them has (or had) a very abrasive style that could drive away lesser people. In many cases those who would have left already have. Interestingly, in one case, the man in charge of creating the first iPods, now has his own company and has created a very Apple-like home thermostat. The implication here is that if someone is going to leave Apple, it's either to go independent or he's not the kind of employee you'd really want if you're trying to make yourself a 'copy' of Apple.
        Vulpinemac
        Reply Vote I'm for Stay the course
    • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

      @grhaigh

      We can only hope that those who follow in his footsteps at Apple will have learned from Jobs the innovation it takes to keep the lead on the markets. With the brilliant minds at Apple and its leaders, I am only hoping that they learned plenty enough from Jobs to improve on the legacy of success Jobs provided Apple.
      whip-r-snap-r
      Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up
    • I'd be doubtin' it.

      @grhaigh
      In fact so much so, I can only believe your either joking, a shill for some other company or you just want to kick up some gorilla dust here to get a reaction.
      Cayble
      Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up
  • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

    Apple does make great toys, but I'm not convinced the iPad & iPhone are the best fit for the business world.
    JMrrs
    Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up
    • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

      @JMrrs You are about 2 years too late...
      His_Shadow
      Reply Vote I'm for Stay the course
      • RE: Great Debate: After Jobs, can Apple maintain the momentum?

        @His_Shadow Some people also believed we would be using the metric system by now too.
        JMrrs
        Reply Vote I'm for Must grow up