Apple lost without Steve Jobs? This week spotlighted that Apple without Jobs is a different company

“Apple unveiled a solid and desirable lineup of new products and services this week. But the whole announcement event just fell flat. Something was conspicuously missing,” Mike Elgan writes for Computerworld. “It wasn’t the products. The iPhone 5 is arguably the best phone of any kind ever built, at least for now. I’m certainly going to get my hands on one as soon as possible. The new lineup of iPods was impressive, especially the iPod Touch and Nano. (It’s surprising Apple discontinued the use of the Nano as a wristwatch; I’m still hoping it will introduce a dedicated iWatch at its October announcement.) And who can argue with Apple’s big iTunes upgrade?”

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.”

Read more in the full article here.

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.


      1. I think it’s well accepted that Ive doesn’t want the spotlight. I remember Jobs even joked about it once – maybe when showing off Facetime on the iPhone the first time? I know he called Ive and Ive looked distinctly uncomfortable.

      2. He has yet to demonstrate any aptitude for public showmanship. He seems more the brilliant behind the curtains type, comfortable letting his work speak for itself and rarely giving interviews and showing up on highly edited film clips talking about products.

        That said, he has plenty of power to create what he wants at Apple and doesn’t need to be saddled with the CEO role to which I feel he is ill suited in order to produce his magic. He is exactly where he should be. Whoever fills the CEO role after Cook should understand the company as a whole, which takes more than amazing design skills.

      3. The brit is a very private person and he doesn’t do well in front of a crowd and Tim Cook is new at this, give him time he will be better but not as good as the legend who had been doing it all his life.

  1. Until the “next big thing” I’m enjoying the hell out of my many Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, FCPX, iTunes, iWork, etc., etc., etc. I have confidence Apple will persevere and keep winning with new products that will amaze consumers and confound competitors.

    1. In the year since Steve’s death, AAPL (the stock) has grown from $380 to $690.

      Does anyone here really believe that the Wall Street would have so much faith in a “caretaker CEO”, and a company running on autopilot, expending the final breaths of creativity of a deceased genius leader? For a full year?? Just a reminder: AAPL closed yesterday at an all-time high, after also hitting an all-time intra-day high of nearly $700 per share!

      And for those who aren’t sure about Wall Street’s prudence these days, check out the competition (MSFT, GOOG, HP…). Obviously, no amount of Courrier, Surface, Win 8, mobile Win 8 or other “exciting” innovation from Seattle got those Wall Street guys to notice. Perhaps it is because they still have that same old CEO…

      1. So….you’re saying a bunch of guys on Wall Street are right about Apple just because of stock price? Yea…look how that turned out last time people thought the suits on WS were considered ‘smart’

        This is the start of a long decline for Apple. Not that that’s a bad thing but lets hope they don’t start to go the way of Sony.

        1. And to prove you point. A lot of traders were selling Apple stock earlier in the year (hence some of the unusual sell offs) to make room for FB shares. Turns out FB is a dud. So what does the Street do? Dump FB and buy back AAPL.

          Point is. I’d never measure success based on the Street’s perception. General public sentiment is more accurate.

          1. Trading AAPL doesn’t necessarily correlate with Tim Cook running Apple. I made money with puts on Apple Monday and Tuesday. I cleaned up by Friday with some of my calls on Apple. So it’s possible to make money when a company’s stock goes up or down. You just have to hope that you know what you’re doing and have conviction. I have both. I also have Apple calls into next year. And I will add more if the stock price drops. Buying and selling equities is a way of investing. Buying and holding produces paper gains which are quite difficult to spend. Daytrading is very risky. There is a happy medium. That’s where I reside. And it works quite well for me thank you. And for your information a selloff in a stock is good, it’s called consolidation. It’s when the people who are amateurs get out of the stock. I’m not being rude it’s just a fact of life. Then the stock can trade higher. Investing has nothing to do with adoration of a company. You might fall in love with a company (which is quite childish) but you never fall in love with a stock. Apple is just a huge corporation that doesn’t care what you or I think. They don’t care how many fanboys are out here. They don’t need anybody to defend them. They can take care of themselves.

  2. Methinks Apple has jumped the shark relative to having the eternally hot hand with the passing of Steve Jobs. No committee can replicate the impact of one guy with a golden touch for the market and the authority only a founding executive gets.

    Cook impresses me as a guy that makes the trains run on time and all big organizations need that, but he is in no way a replacement for Steve Jobs. The rest are role-players that are first chairs, but Jobs was a composer and the conductor.

    Sad, but true.

    1. Jobs was a tsunami, a veritable earthquake that could at one fell swoop change the landscape forever, a mountain mover if you will. You felt the force of nature inside him that could decimate whole industries and transform entire markets.

      Cook, by comparison, is the tremor you feel underfoot when a train passes through the subway line. Different scale altogether.

      1. But Apple is like a rain forest now that creates its own weather patterns. No company within the computing, music, media, portable digital device, software, Internet, telecom, retail, or gps navigation industries can ignore Apple.

        Apple heavily influences all of those industries and sets trends. In many of them Apple disctates the rules of engagement and determines who even gets to play.

        Cook doesn’t need to be Steve Jobs for Apple to continue to plow through its competitors. None of them have a clue what it means to surprise and delight your customers and give them extraordinary and memorable experiences.

      2. Yes Jobs was all that, but I recall the pundits and analysts criticizing him constantly and bitterly. They hated him right up until he died, then sainted him so they could attack his replacement.

  3. Did Mike Elgan just write an article telling us that Steve Jobs was missing from the new iPod/iPhone unveiling?

    Thanks, Mike! You really cleared that up for everyone.

      1. *DING*DING*DING*

        Mike did illustrate one thing: The concept known as CULT OF PERSONALITY.

        Darn, Steve Jobs left Apple again, albeit permanently this time. I think the mourning period is over Mike. Deal with it and catch up with the present. DUH they’re a different company. They were also a ‘different company’ every single year Steve Jobs worked there as well. It’s called being ENTREPRENEURIAL. Go get some business education.

  4. Tim cook is an excellent CEO, Elgan needs to find things other then tech to write about as he is clueless.
    Maybe just maybe Ive is happy to be behind the curtain, yes he would do well out front presenting, but Tim and the others did a fine job.
    All the tech pundits pissing and moaning about the iPhone 5, I’m really getting tired of that, what the heck do they want? The buying public seems to be quite happy as pre orders are flooding in.

  5. Bottom line: The product lineup was really cool.

    Bottom line: iPhone 5 was sold out in an hour.

    Bottom line: Apple stock is higher than ever.

    Bottom line: None of the presenters have Steve Jobs’s charisma.

    Bottom line: Last presentation is proof that even without Steve Jobs, Apple continues being an amazing company delivering amazing products. Steve did a good job while alive.

    Speaking about the iPod Nano watch bashing, my 2 cents:

    I am a wristwatch user (@ age 40). I like wristwatches, and I own a couple. Having said that, regarding the new Nano:

    Pros: Video, bigger screen, Bluetooth, Multi Touch
    Cons: No wristwatch?

    I’m happy with the pros.

  6. I don’t think Apple would be in any better or worse shape today if Jobs was still here, and I still think that Siri would need some work etc, but things are different.

    But what do you expect?
    He’s gone – time to move on and accept Apple is a different, but still very successful company.

    What they’re doing to the stores is a definite worry though.

  7. Wednesday’s announcements surprised and pleased me. The iPhone 5 is far sweeter than I thought it would be. I think anyone with any doubt will change their mind once they hold one in their hands. iOS 6 looks great. I like the new iTunes. And, the new iPod lineup seems solid.

    I think the whole iWatch talk is just ridiculous – that is an idea that Steve Jobs would have vetoed!

  8. you know, Jobs made lots of mistakes along the way. this myth of his infallibility is BS. e.g., Cook just killed off one of them: Ping.

    as i’ve posted before, 2013 is the year when we will first see products and services that Jobs did not get started. then we can talk about the results of new leadership – and it’s certainly a team effort now more than ever.

  9. I think it’s important not to elevate Steve Jobs to God status. Yes he was brilliant and gifted. But he was human and made mistakes too. In addition to Ping (which MDN pointed out) he also gave us the hockey puck mouse, the G4 Cube, and he defended the huge price cut on the original iPhone before being forced to change his mind and give original purchasers refunds. So let’s not be too hasty or harsh in criticizing his hand picked team.

    1. Agreed on all points. Steve not only made mistakes, but frequently reversed his position on all manner of issues.

      If Elgan really believes that “the whole announcement event just fell flat” simply because Steve wasn’t there, then he’s missing a point somewhere. Steve would be the first to maintain that the products should speak for themselves, and the iPhone 5 is an impressive piece of technology.

      Yeah, Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs when it comes to stage presence, but his presentation skills have improved considerably, and I’ve no doubt he’s worked at that.

  10. I feel, Steve Jobs best “product” isn’t Apple, but us (including MDN) — the few, the proud, the uncompromising on good taste and true innovations that push the human race forward.

    You’re missed but not forgotten, RIP Steve.

  11. What such articles usually fail to note is that many years ago Jobs hired the head of Yale business school to codify Apple’s business methods and “culture” so it could be taught to employees. There is an “Apple U” operating inside the corporation that one would assume anyone with leadership responsibilities has to graduate from with honors and practice what was learned or he/she will be unlikely to advance.

  12. @ Griftertus TOTALY AGREE
    Media: If your father was still alive things would be different.
    Me: He’s not, deal with it.
    BTW Steve said yes to the hockey puck mouse . . .
    Do we HAVE to hyper over analyze every time someone makes a product decision from now on and try to figure out WWSD?

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