Opinion

Apple has to prepare for a future without Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has got a lot of things right in his time at Apple (and a couple of things wrong) but it's measure of how successful he - and his company - has become, especially since his return in 1996 which brought Apple back from the dead, that the announcement of his resignation has become headline news around the world.

He took the decision to resign on 24 August because he could no longer meet his duties and expectations as CEO due to ill health.

Some people like to dismiss Jobs as a fantastic salesman who creates a reality distortion field that allows him (and Apple) to sell 'shiny toy' products to unthinking customers. They accuse Jobs of hyperbole, of repackaging existing technology which Apple then claims credit for introducing in its "revolutionary" products.

These were the people who scoffed when the iMac was launched, dismissed the iPod as "just an MP3 player", complained the iPhone was an underpowered smartphone and scorned the iPad because it didn't have enough memory or ports.

They may have been right in their own eyes but they were profoundly wrong overall. While their objections were spurious, they fitted neatly with their narrative of Jobs as a maker of shiny toys, so it must have hurt to see the phenomenal (there's no other adjective to describe it) success Apple has enjoyed despite their criticism.

In all those instances, Jobs had the vision and determination to make a giant leap for Apple into new markets and, more importantly, to get it right. And how.

While I'm sure Jobs would loved to have stayed on as CEO for a long time to come, I don't believe Apple will suddenly collapse because he is no longer the boss. He is a hard, if not impossible, act to follow, but the Apple culture which Jobs fostered is deeply ingrained in the company's DNA and should stand it in good stead going forward.

For years, the words "Steve Jobs" and "Apple Computer" (more recently "Apple Inc") have been synonymous. With the post-Jobs era beginning, the words "Apple Inc" will finally take on an identity of their own.

This was first published in August 2011

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