Who will be Apple CEO when Steve Jobs retires?

“If Steve Jobs ever steps down, Tim Cook’s elevation to COO confirms him as the top candidate to fill his shoes. Actually, make that to try to fill them,” Arik Hesseldahl and Peter Burrows write for BusinessWeek. “Tim Cook just moved up in the Apple Computer world — or so it might appear. Cook, Apple’s vice-president for worldwide sales, was named chief operating officer on Oct. 14. Apple explained the move by saying it’s a job that Cook, in effect, already had.”

“What does the new title mean for Cook’s role as a would-be successor to Jobs? Apple certainly needs to resolve the matter at some stage. Succession ‘is the biggest risk to Apple’s story,’ says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Yet, while the promotion would appear to bolster Cook’s position as a front-runner, it by no means seals the deal,” Hesseldahl and Burrows write. “First of all, there’s no indication that Jobs is giving any thought to leaving. ‘As the head of a public company, Steve has a fiduciary responsibility to think about having a succession plan,’ says Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin, a longtime Apple observer. ‘But Steve isn’t going to retire for a long time. He loves what he’s doing, and barring a major problem, I don’t seem him stepping down now or anytime in the near future.'”

Hesseldahl and Burrows write, “What’s more, Jobs is a tough act to follow. ‘They have the most charismatic leader in the business world, and Steve Jobs is Apple,’ says Munster. ‘When he wasn’t there, Apple had a lot of problems. You can’t find a successor to Steve Jobs. There’s no one that could replace him, within the company…. It’s not what Apple is thinking. It’s what does Steve think.'”

Full article here.

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Our best hopes are anti-aging medical breakthroughs and/or cloning. Make him live 200 years or figure out a way to download the contents of his brain, clone him, and upload to the blank slate. No offense to Tim Cook, but we still like Jonathan Ive, he’s our dark horse; it’s a charisma thing. No matter what, we hope Steve Jobs stays Apple’s CEO for decades more, he’s as irreplaceable as they come.

Related articles:
What happens when Steve Jobs dies? – August 20, 2003


  1. So true. Steve Jobs is Apple.

    Apple needs to resolve this ASAP. Steve Jobs needs to start grooming someone. He’s got plenty left in the tank but he could die tomorrow and Apple would go down the tubes. The company has always struggled without him. SJ’s shoes are hard to fill indeed.

    Jonathan Ive….please. He is no biz man. He is an industrial designer ( a great one at that)

    Bring back The Diesel baby!!

  2. In a TIME article in 1998 I think when he was named CEO of Apple again, he, and I quote said “I will not be here in 10 years.” I don’t think that is true anymore, and I hope it’s not either, but I do remember reading that quote from SJ himself …

  3. And whenever he’s on stage debuting a new iPod, he’d just hold it in one hand like he does with those BK sandwiches, and then do that magical introductory hand-wave with the other hand. All with that pasted-on smile.

    People would swoon over everything he announces. After all, “It’s good to be the king!”

  4. Larry Ellison would make an interesting job of it, but he’s even older than Steve.

    Jonathon Ive isn’t probably the best choice. You need someone with vision, which is something really rare (does Mr. Ive have that?) You also probably need to be a total bastard and contradictorily a suck-up in order to thrust that vision forward and onto others. I don’t think Mr. Ive is like that. He just seems too nice to me.

  5. “but he could die tomorrow and Apple would go down the tubes. The company has always struggled without him.”

    I don’t think this statement is so true. The Apple of today is not the Apple of the 90s. Apple is comprised of brilliant people these days — people focused on great products and innovation rather than the Apple’s “position in the market.”

    In the 90s, tech companies’ primary focus was shareholders and investors. Apple’s gotten back to innovation, and shareholders and investors are better for the ride. Maybe other tech companies today should rethink their “position in the market,” embrace innovation, and be confident with slow, gradual growth.

  6. This entire Ive idea was contrived by MDN, and has absolutely no merit.

    Take a look at the man’s career. Strong design don’t make you a prime candiate for heading up a multi billion dollar global company.

    Only an ass would think Ive should be the next guy.

  7. Sure you can talk Cook or Ive or Schiller or Cleary, but keep this in mind. Steve is but a mere 50. He’s got the potential to ride this wave for another two decades yet. All of those names could be retired from Apple or have moved on to run other companies by the time Steve does retire.

    Steve’s eventual successor (assuming the board doesn’t look for outside star talent) could well be someone who is in college today, it could be the lowest peon in Apple’s mail room (don’t knock it, for the politically minded upwardly mobile go-getter the mailroom is a good place to start as you get to know everyone in the company), or it could be the chief of some product line that no one has imagined, is years away from release, but is so cool it will make the iPod look like a loser.

    Steve Jobs is to Apple as Mick Jagger is to the Rolling Stones, he’s an incredibly tough act to follow, but not an impossible or irreplaceable one. And I think y’all are looking at the wrong generation of talent to take his place.

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