“If last week’s technology earnings bloodbath gave you pause, consider this: What happens if Apple, the world’s most valuable technology company, falters?” Sam Gustin asks for TIME Magazine. “It’s a chilling thought. As the one-year anniversary approaches of the death of Steve Jobs, the visionary and revered executive behind Apple’s most beloved products, tough questions could bubble up about Apple’s future, especially if we see a few more quarters of disappointing earnings results — or weakening iPhone sales growth.”

“Last week, Apple delivered a rare earnings disappointment. The report was notable for weak iPhone sales growth, which Apple tried to explain by citing ‘rumors and speculation’ about a new iPhone that could be leading consumers to hold out for the new model. Apple reported sales of $35 billion, below Wall Street expectations of $37 billion, and said it sold 26 million iPhones, down from 35.1 million in the previous quarter but 28% higher than last year,” Gustin writes. “That result was underwhelming for a company that normally blows away Wall Street expectations.”

Gustin writes, “What if Steve Jobs already introduced the overwhelming balance of Apple’s breakthrough products? After all, during his too-brief, once-in-a-century career, he radically disrupted at least seven industries: personal computing, desktop software, music, mobile phones, publishing, tablet computers, and Hollywood animation, as Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson recently observed on 60 Minutes… Nearly one year after the death of Apple’s iconic co-founder and spiritual leader Steve Jobs, how long Apple can continue its unbelievable run of business performance without him? …As much as I respect him, Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs… a few more quarters of below-expectations results could spook Wall Street. Further weak iPhone sales-growth could obviate the ‘consumers are waiting for the new model’ explanation, and will only cause speculation to increase about Apple’s future.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, the lazy, dog days of August, right on schedule.

Let us let you in on a little not-so-secret secret: Sam is sitting on a beach somewhere (if he’s not, he hasn’t learned how to properly do his job – we certainly have sand between our toes as we type this) and he has a deadline. His boss is hounding him. He needs something to fill up a page. So, Sam ignores that the same sort of pause happens before each new iPhone launch, even if the actual unit sales are sometimes occluded by channel fill numbers due to Apple’s rapid expansion into new countries and to new carriers worldwide over the past five years, and lazily settles for rehashing the tired “Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, so maybe Apple’s in trouble” meme. Then he sends it to his TIME editor and rolls over.

Tim Cook has basically been running Apple Inc. for years. Steve Jobs knew he had limited time on this planet for years. By all reports, Steve Jobs believed Apple Inc. was important to the world and he wanted the company to continue for a very long time after his passing. Beyond the industries listed above, Steve Jobs also disrupted the technology company. Apple is unique. He rebuilt Apple Inc. for the long haul and he personally chose the team of people that’s running it today. If Jobs was a genius (he was) and his utmost priority was Apple Inc. then we’re quite confident that what’s he built hasn’t run aground a mere ten months after he entrusted his life’s work to his handpicked team.

Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Scott Forstall et al. are not mere caretakers. The world needs to wait a little bit more to see what they can really do in the post-Jobs era. One thing’s for sure, the surprises aren’t coming in August.