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Apple After Jobs 454

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
recoiledsnake writes "The connection between Apple and Steve Jobs is unlike any other brand and CEO relationship in corporate America, maybe the world. While Bill Gates has successfully transitioned himself away from his day job at Microsoft, can Apple do without Jobs at all? Once word started circulating that Jobs may be ill, Apple stock took a considerable hit, dropping more than $10 a share. And when Mr. Jobs was absent from last week's quarterly earnings conference call, the questions started again — and the stock fell again. What does this mean for corporate users of Apple for whom switching costs are high? Can Apple continue innovating in Job's absence?"
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Apple After Jobs

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  • But more importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JamesP (688957) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:17AM (#24367411)

    Can the press, or maybe slashdot, stop speculating??

    Maybe today is Apple trifecta day, you never know...

  • Socialism? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:17AM (#24367413)

    Apple After Jobs

    I don't know what will happen to Apple after they abolish all their jobs. I gotta imagine it'd be something like pure socialism with people just doing whatever they feel like at the company and getting just enough to get by. No jobs at Apple would probably be a pretty bad move ... how would I start working there?

  • Perception - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Recovering Hater (833107) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:19AM (#24367443)
    Perception is everything. I think most people remember how Jobs came back and restored Apple to what they once were and how without him Apple seemed to fade a bit. So naturally, it *superficially* appears that Apple needs him more than he needs Apple and if he leaves, becomes terminally ill or dies so does the innovation at Apple. That may or may not be the case but it seems so on the surface.
    • Re:Perception - (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:31AM (#24367627) Homepage Journal
      Lets face it, under Scully Apple was within a hairsbreath of becoming another Windows beige box shop. Computer industry CEOs all seem to want to be Dell, except for Jobs who knows that there is a better way. For another example, look at what happened to SGI when they got a "seasoned" CEO. Sadly, in that case the CEO left the dagger in their back when he left and they've never recovered.
  • I think so (Score:4, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:20AM (#24367467)
    Surely there must be an unemployed cult leader out there capable of taking over. Maybe Warren Jeffs [wikipedia.org] could do some kind of work release program.
  • by Sir_Real (179104) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:21AM (#24367469)

    Don't put much stock (hah!) in how people are betting APPL. The shorts got a hold of it early to try and shake out (successfully I might add) anyone with a tenuous grasp (those that bought recently, those that had unrealized gains). Look what happened after that 15 point down spike. It bounced back 10, and the following day totally filled the remaining gap.

    Using 2 days of trading to predict the future of a company is less likely to work out for you than say... flipping a coin

    • by oahazmatt (868057) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:32AM (#24367639) Journal
      Except now there's a chance that this notion that Apple needs Steve Jobs in order to thrive will make it to some of the financial shows, and facts will be blown out of proportion and influence investors.

      Example: "Now, as well all know, Jobs is the driving force behind Apple's success and rumours of prominent illness could explain several absences, including the most recent quarterly meeting. Can Apple survive without Steve Jobs? I don't think so."

      Granted, that's pure FUD, and opinion and speculation, but if that were to be said on Mad Money or whatever finance shows people like to take advice from, it could drastically impact the casual investor's confidence in the company.
      • by Sir_Real (179104) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:55AM (#24367929)

        And the casual investor will get scalped. Don't be a casual investor. Be a trader, or find a less risky long position. News moves markets but only so far, and most casual traders play news totally bass ackwards anyway.

        Also, you said it... "facts will be blown out of proportion and influence investors"

        That's called an "opportunity" where I come from. The market is very information efficient. If it's blown out of proportion, it will be blown back into proportion.

  • Road Map (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imstanny (722685) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:21AM (#24367471)
    Before the iPod, there has been no distinct road map for Apple, at least no easily identifiable one. Now they have iPod/iPhone/Macbook/iTunes tied together in a very unique way. I'm sure with or without Jobs, they'll continue to build on the success of these platforms, though I expect more evolution than revolution... maybe come up with an iLCD TV, which would be derived from the iMac + iTV.
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:21AM (#24367473)
    I would contend that Jobs isn't the source of innovation at Apple (yes, he is _a_ source, but not _the_ source, imho) so, yes, Apple can still be innovative without him. Jobs is, however, the source of confidence. He ensures that investors are confident in the choices Apple makes which allows them to proceed the way an innovative company needs to - the engineers are given the room to innovate the way they need and want to. The company is allowed to develop products at the right pace and in the right way and investors remain confident that they are doing "the right thing." Would that same confidence exist in his absence? Would investors be as willing to allow Apple to proceed the way it currently does? That's a more accurate question. In my opinion, at least.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:40AM (#24368777) Homepage

      This is an interesting point, and seems to indicate one of Microsoft's serious shortcomings.

      Tons and tons of cool stuff has come out of Microsoft's research division [microsoft.com], who seem to be given a blank check to research whatever they feel is the next path forward in computing.

      Unfortunately, Microsoft lacks the direction or confidence to tie these things together into a cool package, and their OS doesn't encourage this sort of thing.

      Apple, on the other hand, has had about a 75% track record for seamlessly integrating their new products and technologies into their customers daily lives. That's seriously impressive, and they've designed MacOS to be easily extensible, thanks to its UNIX underpinnings and fantastic set of core libraries.

      As one example, Time Machine is a seriously cool technology that even novice users can easily connect with. It's useful, intuitive, and the mechanism by which it works on the backend is embarrassingly simple.

  • by nadamsieee (708934) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:23AM (#24367507)
    Now is a good time to buy Apple stock. ;)
  • by Number6.2 (71553) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:24AM (#24367519) Homepage Journal

    he has already transitioned the day-to-day operation to his younger brother, Raúl.

    Oh, wait a minute, that's Cuba...

    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:13AM (#24369375) Homepage
      he has already transitioned the day-to-day operation to his younger brother, Raúl.

      Come on, that's not fair, Castro and Jobs are plenty different. One is a maniacal, autocratic, narcissistic dictator/zealot who rules his followers with an iron fist and who is admired only by scruffy underemployed socialists who spend all their time in coffee shops, and the other was president of Cuba.
  • Innovate... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RandoX (828285) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:24AM (#24367523)

    I'm not trying to bash Apple here, but I'm not sure innovate is necessarily the right word to use. Product design seems more appropriate. So much of Apple's product line seems to be UI and attractive exterior, as opposed to Really New Ideas (tm).

    Don't get me wrong. That's two things more than anyone else seems to be doing these days.

    • Re:Innovate... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dekortage (697532) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:28AM (#24367585) Homepage

      Maybe it's be semantics. Innovation in UI and appearance, is still innovation. It doesn't matter if the hardware is the same: they have innovative ways of making the same hardware more usable. Especially if it means they succeed in a field where everyone else failed.

    • Re:Innovate... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:55AM (#24367931)

      The thing with Apple products is that they aren't really designed for the average geek here on slashdot. Thus to you and me, it's not "innovative". Average geeks care about hard numbers like CPU cycles and frames per second. Apple designs for general consumers not for us in particular thus Apple focuses on how things work and look and whether these every day consumers can use them.

      Take for instance Time Machine. Pfft. It's just a backup and restore. We've had that for ages. Really all it is just:

      #> tar -czvf back.tar.gz *.*

      Yeah that and some fancy algorithms. I mean even Windows has Restore Points and Shadow Volume Copy. Sure you can look at a single file and directory and figure the difference and it's available on every new version of Leopard. But those are just details right?

      While the idea has been around, no one has taken the idea and refined it like Apple to be as consumer friendly as it is. Remember, Apple is the largest seller of Unix machines in the world. To get everyday consumers to use Unix machines took lots of innovation on many levels.

      • by hobbit (5915) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:10AM (#24368197)

        #> tar -czvf back.tar.gz *.*

        If you're currently backing up to the same volume as what you're backing up, you might just one day find out that Time Machine is an innovation ;P

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mgblst (80109)

        I am a geek in every sense of the word, starting programming Z80 Assembly, then moved onto X86. Being a geek doesn't mean you don't admire what Apple does and how Apple hardware works. The interface of a device like the touch is something to marvel over.

      • Re:Innovate... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:20AM (#24369485)

        I think that a lot of people underestimate the utility of usability even for technical nerdy types.

        I'm pretty nerdy. I can tell you the two things wrong with the tar command you showed and exactly why Time Machine is different. I can tell you how Time Machine works, the hacks that Apple has done on their filesystem to accommodate it and many other UNIXy things, and a great many deep system internals. I am perfectly at home with the UNIX command line.

        And yet, I think Time Machine is the best thing ever.

        Why? Because it makes backups easy. Before TM, my backups were sporadic. Once a week, if I could remember. When Leopard was released, I went out and bought a new 500GB hard drive, pointed TM to it, and suddenly I'm getting backups constantly throughout the day with no human intervention. Sure, I could have set up a cron job, but it would have been annoying and error prone and it wouldn't have done the cool incremental backups that TM does.

        I could duplicate a lot of what Apple has done for me. But that would mean that I would spend all day tinkering with my computer instead of actually getting things done with it. Since Apple has done it for me, and made it really easy to use, I can use their work and use my time to do more useful things.

        The great thing about OS X is that it's powerful enough to satisfy a UNIX geek, but it offers enough usability that a UNIX geek who just wants to get some work done can do so.

  • Philosphy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:26AM (#24367557)
    I would think he is grooming someone that has a similar vision. That's what Steve brings. It's a unique view on the way the product should be. That's what was missing when he left.
  • Jonathan Ive (Score:5, Informative)

    by nano2nd (205661) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:26AM (#24367559) Homepage

    Jonathan Ive [wikipedia.org]

    Responsible for look and feel of virtually all Apple products for the last ten years, is as much responsible for Apple's resurgence as the man Jobs himself.

    Old news though is that he himself is already positioned as a possible successor to the big man.

    Jonathan Ive groomed to take over from Jobs [engadget.com]

    If that happens, I'd feel pretty confident about Apple and their continued ability to innovate in create great products.

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:34AM (#24367659) Homepage Journal

    Can Apple continue innovating in Job's absence?

    Wow! I knew Apple were early starters, but I had no idea they were operating in Biblical times!

  • by Ignis Fatuusz (1084045) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:34AM (#24367665)
    This is the second high-profile article online that has mentioned Steve Jobs' absence from last week's quarterly earnings call. I have listened to Apple's quarterly earnings calls pretty regularly for over five years, and it is rare for Steve Jobs to be present at that event. It's usually Tim Cook (COO) and Peter Oppenheimer (CFO). And holy jeebus...the linked article cites Rob Enderle as its chief Apple 'expert'. Enderle is a joke among the Apple community, as his track record is abysmal.
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:34AM (#24367671)

    I did a research project on Polaroid and came to the conclusion that, like Jobs and Apple, Polaroid was essentially Land's company and after he died, it spiraled rapidly downhill. They had some amazing stuff and once their "vision" had been lost, they were caught short by all the tech that came after.

    With Jobs and Apple, I think the situation is the same only insofar as, pointed out in the article and elsewhere, Jobs and Apple are synonymous. The difference, I see, is that Land was the chief guy people expected all tech advances to come; once Land left there wasn't any one person to keep their eye on the industry. Jobs, however, is not the tech guy; he has a *lot* of good people who are clearly making great stuff, only to be held in check by Jobs until he's satisfied they "have a product".

    Apple without Jobs would probably put out more products quicker, and that is the problem; Jobs is the "great floodgate" for a company that probably is literally bursting with cool, but unpolished, stuff that, if put out in the marketplace, would get a lot of buzz, but then probably sink under the weight of bugs.

    Obviously Jobs can't be there forever, but unlike Microsoft that has been happy to throw everything and anything at the wall to see what sticks (and promise it'll stick better in the next version), Apple needs that special someone who can tell when a they "have a product", as well as be the human face to the company.

    So yes, Apple can continue and prosper without Steve Jobs, so long as they find someone who is just like Steve Jobs.

    Any takers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)

      Agreed. For a company like Apple, a CEO needs to provide a few specific things, all of which can be summed up as a "vision". But when you break it down, there's a few main aspects of it. There's the quality control issue that you mentioned, having someone who has the authority to overrule the accountants and marketing and not rush a product.

      Also important is having a public figurehead for the company. It's extra important when you've got a company that's as secretive as Apple. If a new CEO was a mor

  • by RevRigel (90335) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:35AM (#24367681)

    I guess submitter doesn't listen to many quarterly calls, because Steve is literally never on them, and certainly hasn't been in the last year. Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO, runs those calls. His not being on the Q3 call is simply business as usual, not something special.

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:46AM (#24367843)
    It's not ALL about Jobs. Vista is managing to push even more users towards Apple. Gotta give credit where credit is due, no matter how Balmer may take it (ducks for cover)
  • by reversible physicist (799350) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:48AM (#24367859)
    Jobs is 53 and has no life threatening illness. The cancer he had in 2004 was of a type that usually doesn't recur, and both Apple and Jobs have said that it hasn't recurred. Thus the odds are that Jobs will be in charge for at least the next decade. There's no point in speculating on how Apple would do without him that far in the future. TFA is just "analyst talk" directed at manipulating the stock price.
  • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:56AM (#24367957)
    The majority of this article is based on opinion from Rob Enderle. Enough said. The man is an absolute pin-head. This is the man, who stated that SCO had a case against IBM.

    Nothing to see here but the ravings of a lunatic.
  • Meh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by bmo (77928) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:09AM (#24368191)

    We need to start tagging stories like this with "paul is dead"

    --
    BMO

  • by brass1 (30288) <SlrwKQpLrq1FM@wha t . net> on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:29AM (#24368565) Homepage

    And when Mr. Jobs was absent from last week's quarterly earnings conference call

    Rubbish. Jobs is never on the call. He's only used on the quarterly calls when the Reality Distortion Field needs to be deployed to cover some sort of bad news.

    Oh, the the difference between the Apple of the late 80's that ousted Jobs and the Apple of today is the senior leadership around Steve who actually understand him and his methods for running the company.

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:32AM (#24368627)

    Apple without Steve Jobs is like the Korean War without General Douglas MacArthur. You DO NOT leave the business of war in the hands of dumbass politicians. That bozo from Pepsi was a dumbass politician.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by micromuncher (171881)

      Why do some Apple enthusiasts always discount Anyone But Steve's value to the company? (And Steve was not the CEO at the start.)

      From Wikipedia;
      Apple CEOs
      1977-1981: Michael "Scotty" Scott
      1981-1983: A. C. "Mike" Markkula
      1983-1993: John Sculley
      1993-1996: Michael Spindler
      1996-1997: Gil Amelio
      1997-Present: Steve Jobs (Interim CEO 1997-2000)

      You can discount Sculley ( QuickTime started under his reign ), and Spindler ( OpenDoc, Pippin, Copland, and bridge technologies that were great ideas poorly delivered ) but

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:36AM (#24368699)

    ...it's only a matter of time:

    Apple went downhill after Jobs was given the boot the first time. (And some would argue that without the Woz it still is a shadow of its' former self)

    DEC's death certificate was signed when Ken Olsen left.

    Commodore's end was nigh when Jack Tramiel defected and bought Atari.

    HP went from being one of the best employers in the industry to being just about the worst when Bill and Dave both kicked the bucket.

    As sad as it may be, people are inspired to work for, and purchase products made by companies with charismatic leaders who have a parental-like emotional investment in the company.

    The only good that can possibly come from this is that Bill Gates has left the building, hopefully the Borg can't survive without their Queen.

  • WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gigamonkey (973801) on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:46AM (#24369967) Journal
    Talk to an apple employee about what they think of Steve. Everyone I have ever talked to thinks he is a nut job. Everyone I have talked to is dearly afraid of him. No one wants to be near him for fear of losing their job. I think Apple needs to be rid of him.
  • by whjwhj (243426) on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:00PM (#24370237)

    OK everybody, listen very carefully:

    I've been listening to every Apple Quarterly Conference Call since 1st quarter 2003 and Jobs has never, NEVER been on the call. Not once.

    That makes his lack of participation on the most recent call completely unrelated to anything. Including his health.

    whj

  • by wardk (3037) on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:14PM (#24370491) Journal

    I heard that while playing my OS X install disk backwards

  • by Jim Hall (2985) on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:53PM (#24371139) Homepage

    One thing we in IT are typically very bad at is transition planning. I was discussing this with friends over the weekend - what Microsoft had going for it was a good transition plan after Bill Gates. While Ballmer isn't the best CEO for the company, at least the transition was long enough with Steve at the helm that Bill's departure this summer became a non-event for the company. Lots of interviews and "remember when" videos to be sure, but no one on Wall Street or in the press was left wondering who would lead Microsoft in a post-Gates world.

    On the other hand, Apple has worked themselves into a corner. Effectively, Steve Jobs is Apple. Take away Jobs, and Apple suffers. I wasn't aware of Steve's health problems this week, but when I was discussing Apple this weekend I postulated that if Jobs were suddenly to become sick, or for some other reason suddenly be absent from the company for an extended time, Apple's stock price would drop dramatically. And now, catching up on the news [wsj.com] I see that's exactly what happened. [google.com]

    Apple needs to create a transition plan, and make it clear to the community - investors and users alike. It doesn't matter if Steve plans to remove himself from Apple in a year or 10 years, there needs to be a clear #2 with the chops to effectively manage Apple in Steve's absence. Steve needs to project that person into the public consciousness by having the person back him up in presentations and public appearances, even to the point of introducing new products at MacWorld and CES, etc instead of Steve.

    Apple is an innovative company, and Jobs is seen to lead that innovation, so this #2 person needs to be "leaderful" and innovative as well. That's a tough pair of requirements to meet, but if Apple is to survive Steve's eventual departure, he/she must be seen as Steve's spiritual equal among Mac geeks.

  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:00PM (#24372165)

    Apple's stock price cannot be attributed primarily or solely to Steve Jobs' health. While it may have been on factor, the stock price was already declining due to several factors:

    Apple's stock performance is one of the most speculatively-influenced. Rumors of a new product send the stock skyward and, consequently, the release of said product tends to signal that the opportunity has been capitalized by speculators and a sell-off tends to follow. This happens also in the lead-up and aftermath of each WWDC and MacWorld, as well as earnings statements.

    Both an earnings statement and iPhone 3G release preceded the current sell-off.

    Additionally, current market conditions are sending most common stock issues downward on bad earnings news and renewed fears of the credit crisis.

    While I am suggesting that Steve Jobs' health is not the driving factor, especially since these other news items have been far more exposed than concerns over his health, I am not suggesting that Apple's stock has "nowhere to go but up". I want to lay that out there to avoid exclamations of "fanboy"... in the days prior to the iPhone 3G release, I sold half my shares and advised other investors to do the same.

    Apple's common stock is currently priced at ten times its book value per share... that is, total assets minus liabilities and intangibles. From a Graham-centric point of view, Apple is considerably overvalued and has a great deal of downside risk.

    The question of Apple's future performance as a corporation is not reinforced by how good or bad its heavily speculated (read: overpriced) stock does... as the company does not generate new equity for operations by the trading of already issued shares on the secondary markets (e.g. NASDAQ).

    But, I suspect, that since most with an interest in Apple's pipeline and financial success invariably seems to ask how the stock is doing, and so few people follow Graham's value investing philosophy, it goes to reason that what people who post such articles are really saying is "How will Apple's stock do when Steve Jobs is gone?"

    These sort of diatribes offer no detailed insight into the actual corporate pipeline, management succession plans, corporate balance sheets (the financial strength upon which a company's future rests), cash flows, etc. and are therefore of little more value than what the gossip column has to say about Miley Cyrus.

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