What happens to Apple when Steve Jobs quits or dies?

“There’s a poem on a wall at Apple Computer’s headquarters that starts like this: ‘Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.’ The poem, once part of an Apple commercial, is an ode to people who, to use Apple’s term, ‘think different.’ But it could be just as much about Apple and its founders, who started the company on April Fool’s Day, 1976 – kicking off the personal computer revolution. Three decades later, founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are billionaires. Apple’s sprawling campus here is a far cry from the local Homebrew Computer Club where the two hippies showed their first PC to their friends,” Bob Keefe writes for Cox News Service. “Apple’s award-winning designs for its iPods and curvy computers, of course, don’t even resemble the wooden-box prototype Apple I that got it all started. Apple nonetheless remains the round peg in the square hole of the computing industry, and – to the surprise of many who once predicted its demise – is in better shape than ever.”

“Apple’s biggest problem in the future may be Jobs himself. The chief executive’s control and influence over the company is legendary. Jobs is part of every major product design, and his vision and touch are on everything Apple does publicly,” Keefe writes. “‘Steve is the one thing no other company can duplicate,’ says Gartner analyst Van Baker. Yet despite Jobs’s importance to the company, Apple has said little publicly about plans for a successor when he quits or dies. Increasingly, such a plan may be needed. Jobs turned 51 in February. Two years ago he survived what was first thought to be a fatal form of pancreatic cancer. And after selling his Pixar Animation Studios to Walt Disney, Jobs is Disney’s biggest shareholder and a director – positions expected to take some of his attention away from Apple. ‘There’s definitely kind of a tragedy in the brewing here,’ says Roger Kay, analyst and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, a consulting firm. Other tech companies have clear succession pictures. But who can even name another top executive at Apple besides Jobs?”

“Apple spokesman Steve Dowling says the company has a succession plan but it is confidential. About the only clue Apple has given publicly about who might replace its co-founder came when Jobs chose chief operations officer Tim Cook to run things for the month or so he was recovering from cancer surgery. Cook is a long-term Apple employee,” Keefe writes. “Regardless of who might succeed Jobs, Apple won’t be the same without him, says Rakesh Khurana, a Harvard professor who has studied CEO succession.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t know about the CEO position per se, but the public face of Apple should be someone with a love of design, who strives for perfection, who can express ideas clearly and passionately, and who has charisma on-camera and in public. The public face of Apple after Steve Jobs should be Jonathan Ive. (See related article below.)

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


  1. Well remember, we Mac users didn’t have Steve Jobs for most of the existance of Apple.

    Of course not a drop of worthwhile innovation came out of Apple in all those years either.

    Well there was the Cube I guess.

    It’s just hit or miss really, we all could walk out in front of a bus tommorow morning and our lives suddely changed.

    We will deal with it and if Apple can’t make the grade, we will consider another option.

    I’m already considering another option if these Mac OS X exploits continue. I’ll get a cheap PC and just use it to surf the net, nothing more.

  2. Vista is for Losers,

    The “Cube” was Steve Jobs’ baby. If you don’t know that, you don’t know much. And you don’t know much history: Jobs has a cube fetish.

    Steve Jobs has been with Apple for about half the life of the Mac platform. Mac debuted in 1984, so it’s 22 years old. Jobs left in 1985. One year with Jobs and Mac. Jobs returned in 1997. That’s about 9 years and counting. Jobs has been with Apple for about 10 of the Mac’s 22-year existence.

    You should lurk around and read a lot before posting next time.

  3. “What happens to Apple when Steve Jobs quits or dies?”

    I read somewhere that Steve’s resignation or death will cause a tiny, spontaneous rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum causing the multiverse to collapse inwards at 300 times the speed of light. The resulting event horizon will reverse the causal trend from the big bang and time and space will fold into an invisible cube shape with enough energy to repeat the original vibrations of creation. A few picoseconds later, Bill Gates will take the credit.

  4. Have to disagree about Jonathan Ive being Apple’s next CEO.

    For one thing, Ive is a designer through-and-through in his roots. Being a CEO of what will be a $20 billion multi-national company means precious little time for design.

    Secondly, being a CEO requires financial saavy. There is no way shareholders would get behind Ive being slotted into a CEO position (even if Ive were interested in such a thing, which I don’t he isn’t)

    So it is a huge question for Apple. Apple does need to find someone who shares Jobs’ vision. It isn’t just about making your numbers, but about the unshakable belief in creating great products and an appreciation for the tiniest of details.

    Basically, you need someone with Ive’s design sense with Tim Cook’s operational skill, the Godfather’s negotiating ability, and the salesmanship of FDR (think Big Deal).

  5. I have a cube fetish too and a Cube and to this day it’s still a great machine despite what the unknowing say about what a failure it was. Maybe in sales terms it was a failure, but it terms of design, quality and endearment among those who use and have them, it might quite possibly be one of the best computers ever built.

  6. Steve’s health is my #1 risk factor for Apple. I can not imagine Steve dumping Apple for Disney. Apple’s potential for growth is just too spectacular. The payoff for the brilliant work since Steve’s return is coming in the next few years.

  7. Steve Jobs is good for another 30 years for heavens sakes. What are we all talking about?!

    At 80 he’ll be one helluva livewire with more experince under his belt than any other leader of a tech company ever. His judgement will probably be as good as ever too.

    I’ll drink a toast to Stevie doing the next 30 years…!

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