Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!

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?
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

Editorial standards