The resignations of Apple executives Gilbert Amelio and Ellen Hancock have sparked a lively post-mortem by vendors and analysts throughout the Mac industry.
Few third-party developers seemed surprised by the move. Indeed, many industry figures characterized it as inevitable, and some expressed their relief at Amelio's departure.
"With the breathtaking amount of technological innovation that has rolled out of Apple, the lack of a marketing-driven CEO at the top has hurt Apple in every conceivable way possible," said Carpenteria, Calif.-based MetaCreations Corp. President John Wilczak. "The entire industry is rooting for Apple to come back and thrive." His message for the post-Amelio Apple: "Please, get your act together."
Amelio's resignation came "not a moment too soon," said Lou Doctor, president and CEO of Truevision Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif. "Their lack of direction has frustrated everyone in the industry."
According to Paul Mandel, president of Kansas City, Mo.-based APS Technologies Inc., "Apple was sure to be a tough turnaround, and just because Amelio did it one place didn't mean that he could do it twice." Mandel said Amelio was slow to cut staff and programs. "The worst thing you can be in a turnaround is slow," he said. "You have to get back to profitability fast."
"I'm not sure Gil Amelio ever had a clue," APS Vice President Paul McGraw added "I'm not saying he was a bad guy - I just wasn't sure he ever really got it."
The head of top Mac developer Adobe Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., also expressed support for the move. "We've been concerned about some of Apple's eroding market share, and we're really committed to Apple's success," said Adobe CEO John Warnock. "We're very supportive of whatever the board thinks it needs to do."
Indeed, analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. of San Jose, Calif. speculated that Amelio had been pushed out by the board. "There was clearly a lack of confidence in his ability to turn the company around," Bajarin said, adding that the company needs a top-level player to either reign the company in or sell it off. "Amelio just doesn't have enough charisma to rally the troops," Bajarin said.
Some developers looked forward to an increased role for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. "I never understood why Gil Amelio was appointed in the first place," said Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, president of database vendor ACI US Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. "Since history is always more or less logical, it is good that Steve Jobs is more clearly in charge."
While most observers expressed support for Amelio's departure, many said they regretted Hancock's decision to leave the company. Roger Kasten Jr., chief technical officer at Newer Technology of Wichita, Kan. said, "We're very disappointed to see Ellen go. She had an excellent handle on the technology and a good eye for the future. She had made a number of comments to the effect of 'if Gil goes, I go,' and unfortunately that seems to be the case."
Analyst and ex-Apple marketing executive Pieter Hartsook, based in Saratoga, Calif., also said he wasn't surprised that Hancock had synchronized her resignation with Amelio's. According to Hartsook, Hancock had planned to depart this month anyway, citing her diminished role in the wake of last year's executive reshuffle.
Hartsook said Hancock was probably the best qualified to assume the role of CEO. "She was probably the only person at Apple with the skill-set to run the company," he said.