25 Aug 2011
Firstly, Tim Cook, former COO and newly appointed successor to Steve Jobs, has been running the company since Jobs began his latest medical leave in January. Secondly, Jobs will now serve as chairman and will therefore continue to have a role with the company, at least in the short term. And thirdly, the broad direction and strategy for the company and its major products for the short to medium term will already be in place, and will not be affected by this change.
Longer term, there are more reasonable grounds to believe that Apple may face greater challenges. Though Tim Cook is considered a safe pair of hands as an operational leader, he does not have a reputation as a visionary. And should the time ever come when Steve Jobs no longer has a role with the company, Cook will have to rely on others on Apple’s senior leadership team to provide an ongoing strategic vision, and there is no single figure that obviously fills that role going forward.
Steve Jobs has presided over one of the great corporate success stories in recent history
Steve Jobs founded and then later returned as CEO to Apple, which was until the announcement was made the company with the highest market capitalization in the world. During his first stint as CEO, he created a company which offered an alternative to the Windows hegemony in the PC world, but which always remained marginal in terms of market share. Following his ouster as CEO and his return, he began rebuilding an Apple that had been on the brink of collapse.
He laid the foundation for the subsequent fourteen years of Apple’s history by building a new version of Apple’s operating system, Mac OS X, on technology from his previous company, NeXT. He then built in succession three products that would redefine segments of the technology industry in the next few years: the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, the latter two running operating systems based on Mac OS X.
Without a doubt, Steve Jobs has been the architect of major shifts in the music market, the smartphone market and the personal computer market. Of the three major new products he created over the past ten years, the iPod and iPad gained dominant market shares, while the iPhone transformed smartphones from mostly enterprise-centric devices with hardware keyboards and buttons to a series of black slabs with touch screens. At the same time, these products, the company behind them, and Steve Jobs himself have become the subject of resentment and criticism for their relatively closed and proprietary approach to these products and the related platforms and services.