Tim Bajarin: Why Larry Ellison is wrong about the post-Steve Jobs Apple

“In a recent TV interview with Charlie Rose, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison raised a few eyebrows when he suggested that Apple best days are over since Steve Jobs is no longer there to be its guiding light,” Tim Bajarin writes for TechPinions. “When asked about Apple’s future, Ellison said that we saw Apple once before when Jobs was not there and suggested that without him at the helm, Apple will most likely have the same fate.”

“I am sure that this view comes from his deep relationship with Jobs and the great loss he still feels now that Steve is gone,” Bajarin writes. “However, his view on Apple after Jobs was ousted in 1985 vs. Apple without Jobs now is just plain wrong. When Steve was with Apple up to 1985, everything Apple did revolved around Jobs. He was young, brash, egotistical and an extremely poor manager.”

Bajarin writes, “We all know what happened when Jobs came back in 1997 and started revolutionizing the market with the iMacs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. But unlike the last time Jobs left Apple, this time he was much more aware of his human frailties and starting in 2002, began preparing Apple for the day when he could no longer lead the company.”

Read more in the full article – recommended as usual – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. It will be easy to see if Apple’s ethic has changed after its next round of products is available. Apple has always been about creating the best consumer product they could and it manifested itself in myriad tiny ways in how its products worked. So, look for the almost unnoticeable animation when you switch from one function to the next, or how something you’d never think of until you used it seems to work perfectly. Ignore the glitzy obvious macro things that everyone will be talking about. It’s the minor things that are well thought out by some nameless employee that demonstrate that Apple’s concern for quality is still in play. Look for those and you’ll know whether the culture is still chugging along just fine. When the cool tiny things begin to disappear, you’ll know the culture is changing.

    1. And Tim Cook has already let two “everybody else does it” or “it’s good enough for now” thinkers go (the new retail guy and the guy that screwed up Maps and was unrepentant. I forget their names).

      I think the ethic is being sustained at the top, so it stands a chance of infusing the whole organization.

    2. The cool tiny things are still there. They’re showing up in beta versions of iOS 7 and Mavericks, iCloud, and iWork for iCloud.

      Mind you, in recent years past, such tiny things flowed from Steve Jobs himself. He was teaching, to the day of his death, nameless devotees the way to do them.

      That they still appear, despite the absence of the ultimate micromanager, is strong evidence that Steve’s design work on Apple, Inc.—the institution—is enduring.

      1. Do you mean the tiny little details like on the iOS 7 lock screen? You know, where it says slide to open and has an arrow beneath it pointing upward? But if you slide that arrow it doesn’t open, but rather brings up control center?

        Do you mean that kind of tiny little detail that Steve would have fired the junior designer for not noticing?

  2. Anyone who runs a business knows that picking incredible staff makes the business. The CEO/ leader can’t and doesn’t carry the weight of the business on their backs. I love Steve but he couldn’t do any product without the current crew of staff there now, with a couple exceptions its a very similar apple to prior to his death. The product lull is cyclic and to be impatient is just a sign of immaturity. Apple was and is still a patient creative bunch ready to prove the naysayers wrong all over again.

    1. That being said, Mike, the executive offices have been churning under Cook. There is no retail chief in place. The WWDC, for the most part, introduced peeks of completely predictable evolutionary products. Except perhaps the Mac Pro, which introduces more questions than answers. Nothing clearly launches Apple dramatically ahead of the competition. iOS7 was IMMEDIATELY criticized for the crappy unintuitive icons, the hard-to-read skinny white font, the My Little Pony color palette, and the functionally useless blurring. Most Android users weren’t swayed to even take a look more deeply at iOS7 — these are the customers Apple needs to win back, and the press has not been nearly as viscerally positive as Apple used to achieve every 6 months.

      Truth is, the last several product intros by Cook have been bobbled pretty badly. He’s living off the iTunes store money printing machine. Huge segments of the market and of the globe continue to go unserved. Instead of spending money on product development, Cook is making an Aerobie office and playing stock price manipulation games.

      Apple used to be run by a visionary who focused on the user experience and perfectionist product development. Bowing down to Wall Street wasn’t even a consideration. Those times seem to have changed. Cook’s famously full pipeline (“just wait for it, next year we’ll do something great!”) may be full but it offers only a trickle. And now billionaire investors are swarming to take a bite out of the Apple.

      I simply do not see Apple leadership rising to the challenges that face the company.

  3. My biggest concern for Apple is the influence of shareholder a$$holes like Carl Icahn, he doesn’t get the Apple philosophy and doesn’t care, he just wants to get at their money…

  4. Larry should look at his own performance. Look at last five years graph then we don’t have to say anything. Look at the graph since Steve Jobs death. Or better still compare Oracle’s and Apple’s graph!!!

  5. My theory as to what’s been going on (and this ties back into Ellison, so bear with me):

    The last month of Apple in the news has been downright awful, and in spite of this, the price has climbed.

    I believe management has timed the buyback at the moment when internal confidence and external doubt are most disparate (just before new product announcements). Icahn caught on to what was happening and started buying up shares. He also made a proposal to Tim Cook: let’s buy them up together and keep doing it!

    Icahn realizes that Apple could easily sell a ton of lower priced phones while still making more expensive phones that also sell (the iPhone 5’s staying power proved the point rather decisively). It’s a historic buying opportunity to get the shares out of the institutions’ hands.

    Ellison was trying to do Apple a favor by keeping prices low. Same with the “rumor” for the board member.

    The buyback gives Apple an enormous amount of power, and they are now battling the media-wall-street complex at its own game.

    1. Your inspired idea is well-reasoned and attractive. For a while now, I’ve been exploring the possibility that Apple leadership has adopted new tactics for a new era, playing their own cards in the FUD game, just as the Allies did so effectively in WWII. Managed leaks, red herrings, privileged sources, rumour management, investor handshakes. Jobs would have had none of it, but this is 2013.

      The alternative to your thinking and mine is that Apple are somnambulant, exposed as post-Jobs empty shells, out of ideas, treading water.

      But that’s far less credible than that they used their money, expertise, and market clout to forge new alliances that they needn’t disclose, take their time to turn the ocean liner around, keep the speed down, and post an extra sailor in the crow’s nest to spot icebergs.

  6. Larry Ellison was dead balls on!

    Tim Cook is a glorified babysitter… and not a good one at that!

    He’s the type that’s in the living room making out with his boyfriend, when the baby upstairs is crying because it needs to be changed, the 7-year-old is breaking windows with his baseball in his bedroom, and the 13-year-old is snorting heroin in her parent’s bedroom with her 27-year-old boyfriend.

    This guy is not fine wine, like jobs.

    He’s more like 2-buck-chuck!

  7. Ellison is an arrogant prick. He should be more concerned about his own company’s future than concerning himself about Apple’s doomed future. This dude got punk’d by Larry Page and he’s taking it out on Apple. Why do people like him who should have a lot on their own plate be voicing predictions about the future of other companies? He should have just said Steve Jobs was a genius and let it go at that. Apple probably won’t be the same company it was under Steve Jobs but that doesn’t automatically mean the company will fail. I’m not saying it can’t fail, but no one can predict the future and I don’t see why they think they can.

    Even with Steve Jobs at the helm of Apple I’m sure no one was able to predict that Apple would become the wealthiest company by market cap and reserve cash. The pundits laughed at the iPod and they laughed at the iPhone. It’s unlikely anyone suspected that Steve Jobs would turn Apple into one of the most dominant companies in America, so it’s obvious they couldn’t read the future.

    1. I’d only add that they laughed even more raucously at the iPad, which spawned a brand-new industry that has, in short order, decimated the PC industry.

      The pundits have much to answer for. But they’ll keep getting away with slander, calumny, and market manipulation. It’s no use wondering how they can sleep at night. Enough money can buy the very finest, and softest, beds.

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