Elgan writes, “But something was missing. Something elemental. And that something was Steve Jobs… Because of his legendary status as one of the co-founders of Apple — and, later, as the savior who brought the company from the brink of catastrophe to a position of dominance — Jobs had more power within Apple than just about any major CEO anywhere ever. That power — combined with an iron will, an incredibly keen intuition and hard-won wisdom about which ideas are likely to work — is what made Jobs so valuable to Apple.”
“Apple benefited from Jobs being able to overrule anybody in the company based on nothing more than his intuition, which was often right,” Elgan writes. “Jobs gave the company an extraordinary edge by using his unique authority to prevent the company from making big mistakes or missing big opportunities… I get the feeling that so many of Apple’s wrong notes this year would have been ruthlessly vetoed by Jobs. He would have killed the bad ads, willed Siri into full functionality, and persuaded [Siri founder] Cheyer to stay on. I also believe that Jobs would have lit a few fires that only he could light, which would one day result in major new product ideas. Without Jobs, those kinds of things aren’t happening. And it’s starting to show.”
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MacDailyNews Take: We’ve already explained our fears ad nauseam. Yes, Steve Jobs was a unique, gifted, visionary leader. Shocker. It’s true that he can’t be replaced by one man, but Apple has a very capable group of people to step into his considerable shoes. Yes, we see the same issues with the advertising (blatantly – Jobs obviously oversaw the marketing and was gifted with superlative taste). Yes, we have issues with Siri remaining in beta for so long and becoming increasingly wonky over the past year (somewhat, but remember Jobs launched Ping, too). Yes, some executives have left. They may have left with Jobs alive, too. Founders of companies often end up leaving after a buyout in order to build their next company or to sail their yacht around the world or whatever.
We believe that Tim Cook is a extraordinarily bright man. If he turns out to be a caretaker CEO, he’ll be one of, if not the very best caretaker CEO in history. As we’ve said many times before, the jury is still out. We won’t really know what the post-Steve Jobs Apple can produce on pretty much on its own until next year at the earliest.
Knowing his condition, Jobs most certainly left general plans; i.e. iterate iPods, iPhone, and iPad; the overarching plan for OS X and iOS; how he believed he “cracked TV,” etc., but the details are key and Apple’s best and brightest will have to figure them out together. Beyond a few years in tech, even Jobs could not see except in very broad terms. That will be Apple’s true test. The ultimate question remains: Without Steve Jobs, will Apple produce an unending stream of beige Performas or will they be able to divine and create The Next Big Thing?
The pressure is on for Cook, Ive, Forstall, Mansfield, and Riccio, in particular. It will only intensify.