No, Apple Won’t Be the Same Without Steve Jobs


image: Dylan Roscover
image: Dylan Roscover

The “CEO of the Decade” is no longer CEO.

After the initial shock, a general impulse seems to have seized commenters, which is to reassure everyone that everything will be OK.

Apple will do amazingly well without Steve Jobs,” says Slate’s Farhad Manjoo.

PC World‘s Tony Bradley says we shouldn’t panic, because “Apple Is Still Apple.”

Apple will continue to shine without Jobs at the helm,” says Seeking Alpha‘s Carl Howe.

Why? Because Apple “is more than Steve Jobs,” according to Christina Rexrode of the Associated Press.

All these headlines are technically true, but add up to wishful thinking that masks the larger truth. Yes, Apple is more than Steve Jobs.” But Apple without Steve Jobs is less than Apple with him. A lot less.

Why Steve Jobs was the Greatest CEO Ever

Some CEOs are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

In Jobs’ case, all three are true.

Jobs’ entire life was a “perfect storm” of elements for the man to lead Apple and make it the company it has become. Jobs was born at exactly the right time in exactly the right place with exactly the right personality to become the ultimate consumer electronics visionary.

Jobs was born with a personality containing equal parts perfectionism, narcissism, impatience and a quality you might call extremism.

Above all, Jobs was born with the DNA of a writer. (It’s not a coincidence that both his biological sister and daughter are successful writers.)

Writer DNA predisposes the victim to gravitate to the larger issue, whenever confronting particulars, to larger truths when confronting facts. For example, Jobs never viewed Apple as a company that makes computers and consumer electronics gadgets. To him, Apple makes culture accelerators. It manufactures human experience. Apple doesn’t “succeed in the marketplace.” It “changes the world.”

Critics always slam Jobs as “merely a salesman.” But that’s wrong. Jobs thinks like a writer, understanding and obsessing over larger truths and aspirations, and conveying them with piercing, emotive and unforgettable language. This is what great novelists do.

Jobs was born with qualities that made him the greatest CEO ever, but he also acquired greatness as a CEO. The hard way.

Throughout all his personal transitions, from wandering hippy to enfant terrible to pop-collar douchebag to hard-nosed businessman to the impossible-to-stereotype person that he is today, Jobs has been constantly confronted by challenge after challenge. And each one of them has made Jobs grow as a leader.

The kid who couldn’t be trusted by investors to lead the company as CEO in the 1970s had no idea what he was doing. The man who strode back into Apple in the 1990s as part of the NeXT acquisition was an unprecedented master of the art of running a technology company. During those two decades, Jobs experienced an education like no other. NeXT enabled him to take all he had learned at Apple, and apply it to a startup. Then he took all he had learned at the startup and applied it to Apple.

This perfect storm of DNA, experience and circumstance transformed Jobs into the CEO of the Decade. But what is it about Jobs as CEO that brought Apple from the brink of failure to the most valuable technology company in history?

How Jobs Ruled Apple

The trouble with dictatorship or absolute monarchy is that success or failure depend entirely upon the quality of the despot. That’s why they fail. And that’s why a democracy that limits the power of leaders is best — it still works, more or less, even when incompetent morons are in power.

But what about when the dictator is literally the single best person to lead? In those almost non-existently rare instances, despotism is by far the best form of government. Heaven, for example, is not a democracy.

In the case of Apple, it’s not just that Steve Jobs had become an amazing CEO, but that within Apple, he ruled unchallenged. Sure, he had a razor sharp vision for how things should be. But equally important: Nobody could over-rule Jobs. Not the owners of the company (the shareholders), not the board, not the desires of the users — literally nobody.

People outside the industry often fail to appreciate how powerful this is.

You will note, by the way, that all the most successful companies in technology are run by their visionary founders (Apple, Google, Oracle), and lose focus after those founders depart (Microsoft, HP).

The reason is that without the visionary despot, “groupthink” takes over. Everyone’s got their own agenda, and all these disparate visions tend to cancel each other out. Ultimately, the only criteria for deciding anything is either what’s best for shareholders (short-term thinking) or what users want (obsolete thinking).

At Apple, Jobs’ rule was so absolute that if Jobs wanted decision A, and most of the board, most of the executives, most of the user surveys and most of the shareholders wanted decision B, there was no question: We go with A.

I once heard an eye-opening talk by Palm Pilot creator Jeff Hawkins, who said that in bringing the Palm Pilot to market, he spent much of his time overcoming groupthink. The engineers made compelling arguments for why more buttons would be better, a faster processor would be better, more applications would be better. Ultimately, the original Pilot succeeded only because Hawkins was able to bat down all these disparate visions, which were all based on false assumptions like “more is better,” “more powerful is better,” and realize his own vision “simplicity is better.”

It didn’t take long after the Pilot’s initial success for Hawkins to lose control. The result was a company dominated by multiple agendas and classic groupthink ending ultimately with the announcement last week that the Palm line would be terminated.

Jobs’ power and influence within Apple did not come from his title. His vote was the only one that counted not because his business card said CEO, but because he’s fricken Steve Jobs, and this is fricken Apple. Who is going to over-rule him?

Apple isn’t just getting a new ruler. It’s getting a new form of government. Yesterday, Apple was a totalitarian dictatorship. Today, it’s a democratic oligarchy.

Unlike Jobs, Cook will have to balance the competing interests of various VPs and board members, taking into account the interests of shareholders and users on every decision.

Yes, Jobs is still Chairman, still Cook’s boss. But it was Jobs’ involvement in every little detail that made Apple what it is today. Google’s Vic Gundotra told the story yesterday of getting a call on Sunday from Steve Jobs over a color on an icon. It wasn’t the absolutely perfect shade of yellow, and therefore it was an urgent crisis that had to be resolved immediately. Every. Little. Detail.

Those days are gone.

Apple will continue to be a successful company. This is in part because Jobs has put such a great team in place. The governing criteria for all decisions for the time being will be: What would Steve do?

Over time, however, Apple will and must gravitate toward normalcy, toward average, toward mediocrity. In fact, the success of Apple as a company has always perfectly correlated to the degree of Jobs’ control.

Nobody wants to hear this. I don’t want to say it. But the truth is that Steve Jobs is perfectly irreplaceable. And it was his unprecedented, unrepeatable leadership that made Apple what it is today.

Tomorrow, it will become a different Apple, a lesser Apple.

Companies are only as great as the people who lead them. And today we’re forced to admit that it was, all along, Steve Jobs who made Apple think different.

Apple will continue to be a great company. But it was Steve Jobs who was insanely great.

  • CharliK

    Oh please. Jobs wasn’t at the helm for the last 8.5 months and no one saw a difference. Just like the last two times he put Cook in charge. 

    And just like no one is going to see a difference in the future. 

    Jobs picked Cook, trained and molded Cook. If there is a Cult of Steve, Cook is the High Priest. He’s been made to think like Jobs thinks and to make what Jobs wants to happen actually happen. And that is likely to be the way it will continue for a very very long time. 

  • XP17


  • Mike Elgan

    He trained Cook to have the same influence? 

  • Cassandra

    It seems unlikely, if not impossible, that there’s ever been a prominent publicly traded company so intimately entwined with its (co)founder.  Happiest person in America right now: Walter Isaacson.

  • Apple Fan

    “Writer DNA.” Fuck right off.

  • cliqsquad

    You’re article is scary. Right now there is no other company like Apple. You are right Steve Jobs ignored everything to go after his visions and that is what is scary. The other companies goal is top the other guys, do better than the other guys. I don’t see any other company filling Apple’s role and it makes me sad that in 10 Years Apple will fall into the same rut, but with no one to take its place.

  • JonahBaker

     ? got an iPad 2-(32GB)  for $ 23.87 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 657 which only cost me $ 62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • JonahBaker

    ? got an iPad 2-(32GB)  for $ 23.87 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumi x GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 657 which only cost me $ 62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • JonahBaker

    ? got an iPad 2-(32GB)  for $ 23.87 and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumi x GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 657 which only cost me $ 62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • IMac_man

    I’m with ya on this one Mike

  • Shadytrail

    Very thoughtful article. Apples might as well name its future products iDesignByCommittee.

  • Guest

    Precisely right. It was Jobs’ dictatorship that may have stymied many creative ideas at Apple but it also forced the company to focus on Steve’s projects and vision. Groupthink will eventually take over and products-by-consensus will be the result. If you’ve ever worked in a company as it grew from a singular vision to one pulled in several directions because many good internal leaders had differing visions….well, you know what happens.

  • Gereon

    This Jobs Almighty thing is getting a tad ridiculous.
    Yes, Apple was his (and Woz’s) baby.Yes, he did a good job over the last years.Yes, the company became very successful.And yes, he is a charismatic man with a vision (or two)But a company isn’t necessarily going down the drain because of the men behind the original idea is gone.Maybe Apple won’t dominate their markets in a couple of years anymore.Guess what, that would happen, even if the man was immortal.Because that is the way markets and people work.
    Ask Bill Gates, he knows.

    Speaking of which…
    As long as they don’t crown a complete knucklehead as a successor, Apple is in a pretty good position for another couple of years. 
    Companies with good products AND a vision tend to have a brighter future than others.
    Ask Carl Benz, he knows.

    If Apple wants to do that trick again, it should start to think about the future needs and interests of people that are born right today.

    That’s pretty much how it worked last time.

  • Shadytrail

    Let’s keep things in perspective. The devices we’ll see in a few years will be far more interesting than a simple toy that people can comfortably use to consume music, games, photo’s email while they’re watching TV or sitting on the john. Apple deserves a lot of credit for getting people interested in cool and useful devices, but truthfully, they haven’t made anything original. In a few years we’ll start to see such things… but it doesn’t look like they’ll be coming from Apple.

  • Joe_man

    Great article!

  • Morgan

    Seriously Mike?  Yes, I agree with all of your points about Steve.  But to say Apple is “a lot less without Steve” is a gross exaggeration.  Why do I say that?  Because Steve has been preparing Apple for years to carry on without him.  This is the guy who has architected the future of Tech, what makes you think he couldn’t architect the future of Apple? 

    Cook has been imprinted by Job’s, Ive is the SOUL of Apple, the Apple iCulture has been embedded in popular society and main stream media, and the fundamental ideals that are Steve Jobs have been injected into the Apple workforce.

    Apple will carry on.  They may miss a beat here and there at first, but they will continue being Apple.  How can I be so sure?  Because Steve will be there for the immediate future nursing them along.

  • CharliK

    Cook doesn’t have to have it. Because Apple does. That has been a major point of all the “hey lets bring all the gang on stage” since the 2007 Stock Price Plunge. Get the focus off Steve and onto Apple where it should be. Apple and its gang of mighty minds. 

    All Cook has to do is keep doing what he’s been doing because it is part and parcel with ‘The Apple Way’ that Steve taught him. 

    Apple is not just Steve Jobs and the only change anyone will see is the position of the photos and the titles under the names. 

  • CharliK

    A lot of naysayers have decreed that now that Steve is not holding the rank of CEO, Apple will become like every other company. But you forget something — THE MAN IS NOT DEAD. Yeah I shouted it. Because it is that important enough to be shouted. Jobs is not CEO. But he is not dead. He was named Chairman of the Board within seconds of the Board receiving his letters. They made have not even finished reading the letter before they put the stamp on that call. He could also end up a consultant just like Woz (only more active than Woz seems to be) and continue to guide things from that post. All that has changed is that the nitpicky details are in someone else’s hands to execute. The same hands that handled them for close to 15 years, just under the title of COO

  • Mike Elgan

    I agree about the immediate future, but the thing that made Apple so great is that Jobs was its visionary dictator. Every decision could be decided with a singular, experienced vision. In the future, decisions will be subject to compromise and groupthink. 

    Also, if you chart Apple’s rise and fall historically, you’ll see how closely it matches up to the degree to which Jobs wielded control. 

  • Mike Elgan

    Thank you. 

  • Mike Elgan

    That’s true, and in the short term I think that’s materially relevant. He will surely focus more on products than, say, accounting or personnel issues, etc. But in the longer term, Apple will suffer. 

  • vanmacguy

    We don’t know for certain whether “Steve Jobs ignored everything…” or that “The Culture of Apple ignored everything…”.

    I agree with lucascott above, the culture of Apple, the way they do the great things they do is still there. That’s just how they think and how they do business.

    It will be different, but not necessarily worse or better. I’m looking forward to seeing the differences.

    Change might be good.

  • CharliK

    You are entitled to your opinion and you have stated it. I suppose you should start putting out your resume because why write for a site that centers on what is, in your opinion, a sinking ship. 

    Meanwhile I have and have stated my opinion and leave it merely at saying that time will tell which one of us is correct. 

  • R.W. Elti

    Needed: charisma for media events. 

    One thing I wonder if Cook can do is walk onto stage in plain Levis and black turtleneck, to great applause, and give a masterful presentation, perfectly delivered, with humor, elegance,  simplicity and total command of the subject matter. 

    And someone has to carry off the famous “One More Thing” at the end, right? Or does that go away, since, like the jeans and turtleneck, it is too personally associated with Jobs?

    The press and the public love those media events, and I wouldn’t undercount their importance.Cook seems nice, but I wonder if he has the charisma to carry them off. Maybe Steve can introduce and conclude them, to lend them his “magical” touch

  • JDWages

    I have been a Mac fan and student of Apple history since 1984, and for that very reason I do not see any reason to shed a single tear over “recent news.” Honestly, the numerous “my heart goes out to this man” remarks I’ve been reading this morning make no sense at all in light of the facts.

    Firstly and perhaps most importantly, Steve Jobs is not dead. Yes, the man is in very bad health, but how many years has the general public known that? Moreover, Mr. Jobs has been on a leave of absence from Apple for many months now. That in itself is a major point of consideration that should attenuate our response to recent news about Cook becoming CEO.

    What has “suddenly changed?” Answer: “the official title of CEO has changed.” That combined with a significant amount of hoopla in the media.

    Tim Cook has been center stage for a long time, with Steve advising from the shadows. Cook has been keeping the trains running on time, while others in Apple (like Jonathan Ive) have continued down the path of design innovation that was hand-shaped by Jobs in the past. Those do not recognize that Steve has long been advising Apple “from the shadows” are the ones who are lamenting this “title change” the most.

    Further, it seems utterly preposterous to me that one can lament “the loss of Steve” since he will still be contributing to Apple (no doubt in very significant ways) as Chairman. Have we all such bad memories that we’ve forgotten Steve Jobs was Chairman in the past, during the tenure of Apple CEO John Sculley? In that day, Sculley and Jobs were deemed “the dynamic duo.” How then does one “mourn the loss” of Steve now that he’s Chairman? Because of his present bad health? If so, your mourning should have started a few years ago. And I have not seen any evidence whatsoever that his health has suddenly taken a turn for the worse over the past 24 hours.

    Folks, if you continue to sorrowfully quip “ah, but it’s the end of on era!” you are basically saying, “Well, Steve won’t be micro-managing Apple like he did as CEO.” But to that I would retort, “then you clearly do not know Steve Jobs.”

    The only thing that would keep Steve from continuing to play a major role at Apple is his health — and the exact details of that are not currently known to any of us. We only know he is not dead or incapacitated, and that in itself is significant. Removing himself from “the title” of CEO was the right thing for Mr. Jobs to do because he could still play a significant role as Chairman yet with fewer demands upon him. But removing himself from CEO does not mean he removed himself from Apple.

    The time for mourning and expressions of true loss is only when Steve Jobs passes into eternity. At the time of his death, I too will feel a great pain and sense that something insanely great is now no longer with us. But that time has not yet come and I therefore see no need to waste our valuable time in “preparing for a funeral to come.”

    It frustrates and saddens me greatly that so many want to perceive the man is “basically dead and gone” only because Steve Jobs no longer has the CEO label stapled to his chest. Indeed, I have little doubt Steve Jobs himself thinks all this chit-chat about his “title change” is quite silly too. Wall Street backs up my sentiments, not only by words from analysts but also by today’s current share price, which hardly differs from what it was prior to the news. Steve Jobs is not dead, nor is he no longer advising Apple.

    So sit back, take 5 or 6 deep breaths, and remain excited about what’s coming over the next 12 months. Today is not the day to mourn anything. It’s not yet the end of an era. It is a time for each of us to see what Steve Jobs will do as Chairman, and see what Tim Cook and Apple will do in coming months to innovate and show their preparedness for the future passing of Steve Jobs.

  • Mac365

    Why do you assume that Jobs is the only CEO that can lead apple with a singular vision? To think a large multinational company would appoint a CEO that is incapable of leading is ridiculous. The all hail Steve Jobs “group think” that is going on here is groundless. Apple didn’t survive on Steve’s will alone, and he wasn’t the sole creative mind either.

  • MacAdvisor

    Mike, of all the commentators discussing Jobs’ departure, you seem to be the only one that gets why Apple has been so successful. There are two factors that must unite. First, what Jobs wanted Jobs got. Period. No one in the company questioned him, second guessed him, or overruled him. There weren’t political factions fighting over the courts of the company, product, ad, or whatever. There was just Jobs’ vision and every atom at Apple was dedicated to making that vision a reality. Second, that vision was amazing and nearly perfectly right. From the big picture to the smallest pixel, Apple was an extension of Jobs’ ideas and those ideas were insanely great. Whatever “it” there was to get, Jobs got it. 

    Apple might find an absolutely dictator to run the company; that’s not hard. Apple might find a guy who knows where to take the company to get there ahead of the crowd and be ready to sell the crowd what it didn’t know it want. Finding the guy who is both is almost impossible. We were  damn lucky to get Jobs and I don’t think there is enough luck in the universe to make it happen twice.

    Apple has some great people, but, eventually, there will be disagreements, compromises, factions, alliances, and then Apple will be like other companies. At best, I hope some yahoo like Fiorina doesn’t come along and destroy the company’s soul. 

  • Demonstr8r

    Well said. I couldn’t agree more!

  • Cowicide

    > Over time, however, Apple will and must gravitate toward normalcy,

    > toward average, toward mediocrity. In fact, the success of Apple as a

    > company has always perfectly correlated to the degree of Jobs’ control.

    > Nobody wants to hear this. I don’t want to say it. But the truth is that

    > Steve Jobs is perfectly irreplaceable. And it was his unprecedented,

    > unrepeatable leadership that made Apple what it is today.

    I hope you know a lot of pessimists have shorter life spans and far more cases of heart disease, etc.  ;DFor all you know, there IS another Jobs (of sorts) out there that will step up to the plate.  This is a HUGE world.  Maybe a longtime Mac user who has had a similar vision?  I’m not saying that it will be an exact dupe of Jobs, but maybe someone who brings the same kind of pragmatic, innovative creativity is out there right now and just needs to be discovered?The question is… will Apple and Jobs have the foresight to find this person and KNOW when they’ve found this person?  That’s going to be the true gamble.  I’m optimistic with all their resources and exposure, this is a strong possibility and the cup is (perhaps) half full.  Willy Wonka just needs to hand out some golden tickets and start the process.Apple is not a babe lost in the woods here (by any stretch of the pessimistic imagination).  And, this world is filled with amazing people you’ve never met.  It’s the same world that allowed Jobs to shine and, if anything, Apple’s current position has made that environment more hospitable than ever.If Apple was on the verge of collapse and Jobs was leaving abruptly because of health issues, then I’d be pretty concerned for Apple’s very survival.  But, Apple is the strongest it’s ever been and aside from his health issues, so is Jobs.  The soil is as fertile as ever for growth and Jobs (and the amazing Apple community) made it that way.I’m happy to say I think you’re in for a very pleasant surprise down the road.  And, for all we know, Jobs getting some much needed and deserved R&R may induce a comeback down the road (not that he’s really leaving considering he still going to be the fricken’ Chairman of the Board for crap’s sake).I see your mediocre prediction of mediocracy, and raise…  with a fantastic hand Apple has been dealt from the genius and hard work behind what’s made Apple what it is today.

  • aardman

    “Above all, Jobs was born with the DNA of a writer. (It’s not a coincidence that both his biological sister and daughter are successful writers.)

    Writer DNA predisposes the victim to gravitate to the larger issue, whenever confronting particulars, to larger truths when confronting facts.”

    Really, is this true?  I also read that all writing is fiction.  That might be the bigger truth.  :-)

  • Joop Kiefte

    Well, Apple is the biggest company in the world now. That says something about the value of fiction I think…

  • aardman

    You’d think that Apple’s top brass is not aware of the group think pitfalls pointed out in the article.

    You’d think that the top execs, now that Jobs is no longer running the company, are now going to all lose their discipline and start squabbling like a bunch of five year olds.  

    You’d think that very intelligent people who have succeeded by doing things in a particularly unique way will now turn incredibly stupid and abandon all those practices that made them so successful.  

    You’d think that the type of person who is able to not only survive, but thrive, working for Steve Jobs doesn’t have the same perfectionist personality, attention to detail, and laser-like focus that Jobs has.

    Not all corporations go south when the founder-CEO leaves.  A lot of them do, but the ones that are able to continue on are those that have consciously and meticulously cultivated a very strong corporate culture and DNA.  McDonalds and Walmart come to mind.  Apple is the same.  Heck, they even set up a frickin’ Apple U to document, codify and perpetuate the Apple Way.

    Apple will be fine.

  • Theyseeyoutrollin

    Stevie has been training Tim, and others at apple on how to run the company, what to do, etc. They’re going to be fine. yes, apple is more than steve jobs. We get that he is a great leader, but he is also a great mentor. and his pupils know what to do and how to do it. Tim is about as harsh and strict as Steve. Chill.

  • aardman

    You know that saying “Apple is the biggest company in the world now” is fiction right?

    Nevertheless if fiction brings you $79 billion in your bank account, then I’m all for it.

  • Jeff Mitchell

    Thank you…I couldn’t agree more.  Steve Jobs is NOT dead.  And I doubt he’s really going very far.  Let’s all stop pretending that he’s in the ground.

  • Bryan Dobson

    Well from the sounds it Mike this site will be shutting down soon? Dust
    off that resume because Apple is done. I’m going out to buy an HP, wait,
    no, a Dell tomorrow. It’s been a fun ride all these years but with
    Apple being lesser. I’ll be sure to check our your new line of crystal
    balls when you get your start up running.

  • Hiroo Nakamura

    “Those days are gone.” — you dont know that. Cook might be the same

  • Zulvianes Budiman

    As always, your writings is very entertaining and give me some deep insightfull meaning. Great article. Well done Mike. :)

  • Lance Hall

    I think that Steve Jobs needs to write an “Apple Constitution” so the company never stray’s from his ideals. Making it a binding document that any design or process cannot violate what is written. 

  • Eugene Clemens Els

    Is this reporter trying to destroy everything Steve Jobs has worked for? Steve Jobs was like the Buddha of Buddhism, it didn’t need Buddha to keep his religion going, it needed people to have faith in what he taught, this is truly not a true follower of Apple. Steve Jobs has left the company with his legacy which will flourish if the people place their faith in that which has already been established by Jobs. Apple will continue to develop and grow on that foundation Jobs have laid.

  • Richard Mears

    Did you find that bigger truth in the fiction section?  ;)

  • gareth edwards

    Why do we assume that Jobs is irreplaceable?  The world is a big place, there is a steady trickle os great people. OK, so Jobs was the man, BUT there will be others and a company like Apple will be like a flame to the genius months.  Yes, the TOTAL STEVE Apple will go and be slowly replaced by a Steve-Like Apple but I don’t fear for Apple’s future.

    As an example, Ferrari is no less of a great car company since the founder went to the junk yard.  It’s different but the output is essentially true to the founders overall vision.

  • Friso

    Really people, you optimists can’t have it both ways now.

    Steve Jobs, the visionary, the man who knew how to make others deliver their best work and then integrate it all into great products… and then when he leaves it is just fine? Apple will be okay? We don’t really need the guy? That doesn’t fly with me.

    Sure, he’s not dead yet. He’ll influence things at Apple until he passes on. So feel free to close your eyes and mind with the incantation that he’s still there. But one day he will no longer be, and I believe Mike is talking about the Apple without Steve there to guide it.

    And I think Mike has a point. Sure, Tim Cook knows what to look for in the work of others. He can make things become reality, being the seasoned COO/CEO that he is. He witnessed the decision making process for a number of years now. But will he wake up one day and think of some great new product or direction for the company? And when he then comes to Apple and talks about it, will people sit up and listen to him and not question his sanity but try to improve upon his basic idea? Cook is not Jobs. He doesn’t have that founder of the company credibility. When the current roadmap has been realized, what remains?

    Countless engineers will bounce their best work off of Cook. Who’s he to then say they’ve got it all wrong and they need to go back and think some more? If Steve says it, you go and do it. If Cook says it, well, maybe he just didn’t understand you. Know what I mean?

    Let us be glad Jobs is still here and let us also be honest about the fact that nobody can replace a true visionary. Apple will remain a great company for years to come, but nobody at the company will ever acquire the status of Jobs. Whether that becomes a problem, remains to be seen. At least Apple (and Jobs) seem to be introspective enough to perceive it as a potential issue and that fact alone does reassure me somewhat.

  • Stefan Stente Nielsen

    Great great article and great analytical approach – the part I do not like about it though is….. I agree with your conclusion :-(.

    If Apple is to continue their impressive run in about 4-5 years time, then they need to do things differently.I would say they shouldn’t continue “work as normal”, but rather use some energy on figuring out how to accumulate their collective wisdom from their brilliant employees and consequently stick with a vision and strategy that makes sense….And for that job, Tim Cook might just be the perfect guy. I know this is not sexy, but I can’t see how Apple otherwise will create the “next big thing”….They need to focus extensively on how to share knowledge and how to utilize this knowledge and I think that will be Tim Cook’s greatest challenge.

  • fantoo

    Please back steve !

  • Matthijs Vermeer

    Anybody read Good To Great by Jim Collins? Do just that, and you’ll understand why Mike Elgan is correct. The only thing that makes me optimistic is the fact that Jobs will still be on the board of advisors. And since he’s fricking Steve Jobs, anybody’ll listen to him anyway, regardless of him not being CEO anymore. It’s when he really leaves Apple, when I’ll be worried.

  • Michael Zindilis

    “My Tribute, My Story, and My blog, for the great Steve
    Jobs”  http://www.straightfromthedonkeysmout...



  • karleklund

    The way to keep Apple ahead is not to write down what it is doing and keep doing that–microsoft could do that. The way to follow Steve’s legacy is if none of us has any idea of where Apple is going to go after it uses up the existing unbuilt designs. But it doesn’t matter.

    What is going to happen is that the next Steve Jobs is going to pop up somewhere and we are going to put as many obstacles in his path as possible. He’ll be lucky if we don’t try to crucify him.

  • sudo nym

    the article was good till i read the word ‘normalcy’ where did you go to school?