A future without Jobs

Rob Powell/Telecom Ramblings
29 Aug 2011

Not the employment kind of jobs – though those are getting scarce too, but the Steve kind of Jobs. That’s the big news, the man who built Apple with his bare hands and brute force of will *twice* has stepped down as CEO of the company.

He did not give many details, but few doubt it is anything other than the health reasons that have seen him drop out of sight for several periods of time. It’s the end of an era for many sectors, and because of the impact of the iPhone and iPad, telecommunications is one of them.

Tim Cook will take over the helm, with Jobs remaining as chairman of the board. Whatever he does or doesn’t do with the job let me just say that he’s awfully brave. Following Steve Jobs is going to be an impossible task, whatever he does will not measure to the already legendary exploits of the leading demigod of technology. Even the most stylish and interesting new products will be greeted with ‘but imagine would Jobs have done with it?’ Starting as king of the hill means all paths lead downward.

It’s more of a device thing, and without Jobs it seems likely that the pack will sense an opportunity to make its move on the leader. The competitors that Apple has nearly driven from the tablet market will be emboldened to try again, meaning more devices to support, and more apps competing to use up all that bandwidth.

But since the exclusivity of the iPhone on AT&T is gone, the overall effects of this will be spread out and hence diluted when it comes to telecom. Carriers who have seen their influence wane as Apple’s grew will surely try to reassert themselves. Just how they do that is unclear, but I think they must find a way to re-shoulder the burden of innovation that has lately shifted so far toward the device makers and away from the network.

Overall though, the effect of Jobs’ departure will be mostly psychological. Steve Jobs is only one man, but the market without him as one of its creative pillars already just doesn’t feel the same. How could it?

Rob Powell is founder & editor of Telecom Ramblings, which was set up in 2008. The website is dedicated to discussing trends and developments in the telecom industry.

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