Today, Steve Jobs announced that he will be abandoning his post as CEO of Apple Inc. and taking on a more limited, but still functional role as chairman of the board. Tim Cook has already been promoted to CEO, with Jeff Williams filling his position. Although this wasn’t a complete shock, it is the next step on a road that Apple thus far has been reluctant to take. Jobs saved Apple – he saw a plummeting company and did the impossible, saving it from the depths of despair and taking it to the top.
Mumblings from the inside and rumors hold that Steve has always taken a very intimate position in product development. It has been told that, in 2006, he was approached with the initial design for a tablet, and flat out rejected it, instead suggesting something smaller, like a cell phone. Without a doubt, it was his extraordinary vision and foresight that allowed Apple to flourish. What will happen without him?
Perhaps it is journalistic melodrama to suggest that Mr. Jobs is the core of the Apple, but he certainly plays a strong role. The likes of Tim Cook and Phil Schiller have proven themselves more than capable of steering the company in an innovative direction. Surely, hiring will continue and they will bring in brilliant new minds, and that’s all great for them – but I have a feeling this won’t be the Apple we know and love. As we’ve seen recently with Leo Apotheker, venerated killer of WebOS and HP’s Personal Computing Division, new CEOs don’t always follow the old formula, no matter how well it works.
Therein lies the problem, the uncertainty. I can see some major shifts happening in Apple’s future, according to the market and Tim Cook’s fresh perspective. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the iPod line was scrapped entirely, or cut to a major extent. As far as their lucrative personal computing business, they have already begun integration with their personal devices market, an interesting turn of events. Surely, OS X Lion is living proof that the company has already begun to take a very drastic turn. Whether it is positive or negative remains to be seen, but it is of utmost importance that the new management continues the tradition of carefully thought out decisions and products. Only then can Apple justify its margins.
Whatever happens, I’m certain that Apple will continue to make plenty of money for its shareholders. Chairman Steve Jobs will still have deep ties with developing products, just like when he had CEO prefixed to his name. It is still a sobering moment for the tech industry, however. He has brought us so much in the past decades. I know that I speak for all of us in saying that we wish him the best of luck.