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How Apple Could Survive Without Steve Jobs 331

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the on-a-mountain-of-money dept.
ThousandStars writes "The Wall Street Journal asks How Apple Could Survive Without Steve Jobs: 'Speculation about the continued reign of Mr. Jobs — which has popped up from time to time since his 2004 treatment for cancer — underscore how closely Apple's fashion-setting products are identified with its co-founder.'"
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How Apple Could Survive Without Steve Jobs

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  • by cerberusss (660701) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:47AM (#26159051) Homepage Journal

    Meh... Same thing could be said about Oracle or Microsoft. Answer is; it depends.

    • by imamac (1083405) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:49AM (#26159075)
      It depends on how well Steve is preparing his successors. And it seems he is working at pretty hard and getting them involved in the media aspect, which is one of the biggest parts. (The distortion field must continue...)
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:35AM (#26160283)

        I worked for an organization which was carved out of the main organization by the sheer force of will and vision of a single manager who became it's head. She then made life impossible for every type-A person in her organization and put very skillful and considerate but not type-A people in as her subbordinates.

        everything worked great till she left for the next job. Then for ten years nothing got done, no initiatives lasted longer than 6 months everthing was adrift. A succession of managers drawn from her subborindates got us no where. Finally someone from the outside was brought it and things got a bit better.

        The thing about imperious leaders is that they really get the job done. It matters less that they make perfect decisions but that they make a series of connected decisions related to a driving vision. if some decisions are sub-optimal they still are part of the path forward because no one is second guessing the slow progress and everybody is working as a team.

        Jobs had both visions, aggression and a sense of style. Apple sells style but does john Ives have the cojones to command?

        I can only judge shiller and Ives by their brief appearances but they seem a bit too jolly to me.

        It's also not enough to be a tough guy. You actually have to have skills too. That's what happened when Jobs got forced out by the mangerial power plays. Tougher guys without jobs skill and understanding took over and ran it into the ground.

        You need the whole package. Jobs is that guy. The question is not if he's trained his subordinates, but if he scared off all the type-A guys with real skill?

        What about that dude that wrote Beos? Maybe he'd be someone with some vision and force of personality? How about some of those Execs that started TransMeta?

        Or maybe Fake-Steve.

    • by CmdrPorno (115048) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:11AM (#26159305)

      I think Microsoft or Oracle would get along just fine without Steve Jobs.

    • Absolutely not! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:17AM (#26159361)

      Everytime I see a new Apple discussion - like before (and after) the iPhone introduction or now on various products - I see a big set of geeks just not GET IT. By it, I mean the popularity of Apple products, by doing a checklist feature comparison like the back of a software box - as if all checkmarks indicated the same quality. Not all checkmarks are created equal;)

      Anyway, I would suggest that Apple look at how Fashion powerhouses handle succession, and not the typical technology company. Perhaps it would give them a better idea how to handle transistion in a creative enterprise and not just a purely technical one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        Maybe they could hire Tim Gunn [wikipedia.org] to take over after Jobs. He could update that tired old turtleneck and tell the engineers to "make it work."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cally (10873)
        Fashion houses typically go bust or are taken over when the founder dies or retires.
      • Re:Absolutely not! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nursie (632944) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:38AM (#26159565)

        You mean not all check marks are as shiny as others?

        No, I don't get it. The iPhone is not a quantum leap in smart phones. It's pretty, sure, apple design their stuff well, but it's not revolutionary. Neither is/was the iPod. More than that, apple take steps to lock people in to their software and hardware interfaces.

        So yes, pretty, generally a good UI. However I'm damned if I'm running iTunes or letting Steve decide what I can do with my phone.

        Life isn't just about checkmarks, but releasing a product with less checkmarks and then hyping it as the way forward gets to some folks.

        • Re:Absolutely not! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:02AM (#26159881) Journal

          It's easy to say that, but when you take Apples "Less functional" product and set it next to a "More functional" product you can really see a difference.

          I'm not a fan of their computers, and I don't think much of their design decisions there. But take the iPod vs Every other music player, and it's just sad. Sure, other had more space, sure others supported more codecs, but the iPod blows them away in usability and style (except in the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned annoyance of having to get a third party app to get music off the iPod on to a new computer.)

          Likewise the iPhone. It's slick and intuitive. Sure there were more functional crackberries and palms out there, but they didn't have the full touchscreen, and they didn't have the same sort of development environment...Crippled as it is, people are lining up to make apps for the iPhone.

          And what happens after the iPhone comes out? Everyone else gets a touchscreen phone. They look similar. They have the same or better features. And they just don't work as well. The Blackberry "Storm" is a dog...The software support is terrible, and it's not as responsive.

          They make decisions that cause problems for high end users, but we are the niche, not everyone else. And techies are still getting the iPhone, they're just bitching about it.

          • Re:Absolutely not! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by D Ninja (825055) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:16PM (#26160893)

            It's easy to say that, but when you take Apples "Less functional" product and set it next to a "More functional" product you can really see a difference.

            You're absolutely right. Apple products are not *always* the best product. However, something many techies and "nerds" don't understand is this - most people don't care.

            My mom didn't ask me for any MP3 player for Christmas. She asked me for the iPod. Why? Because it has such a huge market saturation, it looks good, it's "cool" and, at it does what she needs it to do (and somewhat easily, I might add).

            Apple focuses on making their products an experience for their users. They build an image for their product. Image is *extremely* important to most people (yes...even /.ers are typically concerned about their image). Image is why Apple wins and this is something Steve Jobs understands and follows through on. It's why he's so freaken nitty-gritty about the tiniest little details of his hardware.

        • Re:Absolutely not! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RogerWilco (99615) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:25PM (#26162777) Homepage Journal

          Apples key selling feature is usability.

          Not the looks, not the tech, not the numbers features or anything else.

          Usability.

          Their stuff is the easiest to use.

          That's the core of the Apple magic. It's a combination of targeting the right market, ergonomics and interface design.

          Their goal is to make devices that you never struggle with to get them to do what you want. They often succeed.

          After having used Windows and Linux for decades, I'm since a year an Apple convert. And being a software developer myself, I am amazed again and again how well designed it is and how well it works and how good it is at not annoying me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WCguru42 (1268530)

          I'm going to try something bold, a car analogy.

          Linux is like a classic 60's car and OSX (and iPods, iPhone etc.) is like a modern bmw (and let's just say the Windows is like a mazda, or ford, or whatnot). The gear heads love the classic 60's car because they can tinker with it and play around with the guts to truly enjoy the car just as Linux people love their systems because they can tinker with them and make them do exactly what they want. Conversely, most people that aren't gear heads would hate to own

      • by MrMarket (983874)
        If I were the board, I'd make Ives a figurehead CEO, and put him in charge of the strategic direction of the company with regards to meeting consumer demands, and put in a strong CFO/COO to manage the business.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by inline_four (594390)

        Just because something is popular, doesn't imply it's popular on its creative merits. Britney Spears is a lot more popular than Sonic Youth, for example.

      • Re:Absolutely not! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RogerWilco (99615) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:15PM (#26162623) Homepage Journal

        I think you're right, that in some sense Apple is more a fashion company than a tech company.

        But I also think they're something else. Fashion usually wants to do it different and is often not very usable.

        In contrast, what makes Apple good is the focus on usability over anything else. Yes it usually looks nice, but I feel that's often a by product of trying to make the most useful appliance not the goal.

        I don't really know what to compare them to, I don't think there is a company in the world that focusses so much on usability as Apple does.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:50AM (#26159081) Journal

    How Apple Could Survive Without Steve Jobs

    No, I'm sorry, it's just not possible.

    You see, cancer was also a chance to have an operation where they inserted a tiny chip into his body to track his heart beat. In turn, it relays a message of his heart beat to his iPhone which is always on him. That relays it to a satellite receiver which sends the message back down to earth to the triggers on 4 pounds of C4 placed carefully around the support base of each Apple building telling it not to blow up. If it doesn't receive that message, no more Apple.

    A bit eccentric, I know--but most geniuses are.

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      Been reading Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash [amazon.com] , have you?
      • by russotto (537200)
        Stephenson didn't invent that idea; it's been an SF staple for a long time.
      • by Thelasko (1196535)

        Been reading Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash [amazon.com] , have you?

        It was also in the 1997 movie Spawn.

    • She kenna take much more of this!

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:11AM (#26159303)
      Not necessary. If Jobs died, most of his followers would probably commit suicide voluntarily anyway.
      • Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shivetya (243324)

        isn't suicide by definition a voluntary act?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bemopolis (698691)

          isn't suicide by definition a voluntary act?

          I see you are unfamiliar with ancient Rome. Or shogunate Japan. Pity the CEOs of the banks we bailed out don't have that sense of honor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        But Microsoft is going to parachute in on us! They're going to shoot some of our innocent babies. They'll torture our children! They'll torture some of our people here! They'll torture our seniors! The ones that they take captured, they're gonna let them grow up and be dummies! We didn't commit suicide, we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.

    • by mobby_6kl (668092)

      I think Apple could survive for a while if they stockpiled on enough black turtlenecks. However, I'm afraid the RDF will pose a greater risk as its effect will steadily diminish after death, in a manner similar to radioactive decay. So the main question at this point is what's the RDF's half-life?

  • Jobs the magician (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:50AM (#26159085) Homepage
    I remember reading in Freiberger's Fire in the Valley [amazon.com] , his chronicle of the birth of the PC in the 1970s, that Woz and Jobs formed an almost ideal partnership, with Woz creating sublime technical solutions and Jobs knowing how to work people to make them sell. With Jobs, Apple might not have gone anywhere, but rather would have disappeared like so many hobbyist PC projects of the era.
    • Re:Jobs the magician (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WebCowboy (196209) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @03:28PM (#26163683)

      Woz and Jobs formed an almost ideal partnership, with Woz creating sublime technical solutions and Jobs knowing how to work people to make them sell.

      The industry and Apple itself have changed. I'm not sure Woz would fit in at Apple. If Woz was born a couple or few decades later he'd probably be more inclined towards an open architecture platform more like a PC-style system running something like Linux. Woz made engineering an art form--his designs were efficient, elegant works of art for those who appreciates them.

      Alas, it wasn't only his accident that forced him to leave--had he not had the accident he would've left of his own accord anyways. By 1984 Apple was a 2-headed beast: There was the Apple II camp, with a simple and familiar but aging open system, and the Mac camp, who were revolutionaries tasked to design an "appliance" that was friendly but totally closed. Jobs made it clear the Mac camp was the "new apple" and that the "old apple" of the II line was a legacy destined to fade away.

      In designing the Apple II platform, Woz made deliberate design decisions that were completely counter to what Jobs envisioned (with Raskin's inspiration) for the Mac. For example, The Apple I (and early Apple II IIRC) came with full hardware schematics so hobbyists and third parties could create hardware interfaces. The original Mac rivaled the Apple I and II for elegant, simple design but those inner workings were a closely held secret (especially the software/firmware on which so much of the original Mac's functionality relied).

      It goes on from there: The Apple I was a bare board and the Apple II had a user-removable panel to access the mainboard and add cards. The Mac was completely sealed and cracking the case open voided the warranty. Woz deliberately added expansion slots to the Apple II because he saw the Apple I's lack of expansion slots as a shortcoming. Jobs issued a strict edict that expansion slots--especially internal slots but even external ones--were banned from the original Mac design.

      Woz was essential to the company's early success for his engineering talent--he could make amazingly capable hardware that was amazingly simple and low cost. Jobs provided the motivating force to make it friendly. He insisted on an Apple II case with rounded corners with a colour similar to the inside of an apple. He presented challenges to Woz, who loved to take on challenges.

      The thing is--there isn't a Woz-type engineer at Apple anymore, nor does there need to be. From an engineering standpoint, absolutely NOTHING Apple sells today is the least bit groundbreaking. The Mac is just a very attractive looking PC with DRM measures locking the software to it. The iPod is no more technically capable than the Zune or Archos or whatever.

      Apple is primarily a leading marketing and industrial design firm. It makes beautiful products and successfully convinces people they are "cool". That is "Jobs territory" and is why engineering talent at Apple is secondary. Departure of Jobs will be painful for Apple, and the degree of pain will depend on whether a handful of VP-level people with "design" and marketing talents will stick around. Even if everyone sticks around when Jobs retires it will be painful. Jobs didn't come up with any of the successful products Apple now sells--he didn't design them or even come up with the idea. Crucially, however, he had an eye for picking winners. If Scully were at the helm, he'd have shut down the iPod project because music players were not Apple's focus, and macs would have all the style of a Dell with none of the compatibility. If they pick a Jobs replacement that lacks his talent for picking winning ideas Apple will flounder for years.

  • by bytethese (1372715) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:51AM (#26159103)
    While initially it may go down with any news of him leaving Apple, I think the talent pool they have is great.

    Whoever should succeed Jobs should be very aware of this talent pool and be sure to keep things running as smoothly as possible to ensure a bright future. In essence I wouldn't be too worried about Apple being Jobs-less.
  • by theaveng (1243528) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @09:54AM (#26159137)

    i.e. Not well at all. They company floundered from 1967 to around 1987 until a new CEO with vision arrived on the scene.

    I suspect Apple would do the same, gradually returning to a state akin to how it was in the early 90s. Ultimately it might end-up in the same state as Commodore (which also lost its visionary CEO and slowly but surely died-out).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      Disney without walt has exploded.

      They own almost everything now, they plaster themselves on everything and almost every child has the "go to disney" zombie mantra imbedded in them.

      If Apple does that, they WILL become bigger than microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      I think we give Steve Jobs a bit to much credit. A hidden key part of Apples growth in Mac Sales, is the simple fact most of programs we run today are via (mostly, kinda sorta) open standards AKA the Web. Think about all those crazy applications that you had way back then before the late 90's. An Encyclopedia and Full dictionary, other resource applications all needed to be on physical media which you put in your system and run by your system. A slew of games even ones of cheap quality (even for the

    • by Cally (10873)
      Off topic, but your .sig needs an update [google.co.uk] :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by billcopc (196330)

      Ultimately it might end-up in the same state as Commodore (which also lost its visionary CEO and slowly but surely died-out).

      If being directly responsible for the computer industry crash of 1983 is what passes as "visionary" to you, well I have a C64 to sell you for the low low price of $99. Jack Tramiel was a loose cannon, so desperate to beat everyone that he beat his own company, by bargaining it out of existence. At that point, everyone was bleeding money, so he did the unconscionable and bought Atari's dying corpse for a song, and then used it as leverage to dick around with Amiga through his creative interpretations of co

  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Someone is fighting his cancer and the media is already choosing a coffin?

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SausageOfDoom (930370) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:03AM (#26159893)

      It's actually very few forms of cancer that can be completely cured, which is why people working in medicine talk about cancer survival rates rather than the percentage cured. You're talking about the percentage of patients who survive the first 5 years after being diagnosed - after that, all bets are off.

      It's quite heartbreaking to hear people talking about fighting their cancer and how it has been cured - when you have been treated successfully, your cancer goes into remittance, but chances are that it'll be back; usually the best you can hope for is that you've postponed the inevitable for a few more years. And when it does come back, it's often more aggressive and systemic than before; frequently to the point that all that can be done is treat the symptoms to ease the patient's passing.

      Even though Jobs' form of cancer has an extremely good survival rate, he wasted time before getting treatment, increasing the opportunity for it to grow and metastasize. I'm not saying it will definitely come back, and no doubt his prognosis is better than many other forms of cancer - but it has been 4 and a half years since he was diagnosed, so shortly the published survival rates will mean very little.

      We the public are not privy to his medical records, so all we can do is talk about odds - and the odds are rarely good when dealing with cancer. Although planning his funeral may be premature, talk of the future of the company is only fair, especially for a company that appears to owe so much of its success to just one man.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evil_aar0n (1001515)

      Yeah, Lance's cycling team - Cofidis - gave him up for dead, too. In hindsight, I'm sure they still support that decision.

      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:25PM (#26161025) Homepage

        Lance should have been dead. if Lance was literally anyone other than Lance he WOULD have been dead. The treatment plan IIRC was "we'll give you enough chemo to kill any two ordinary people and count on the fact that you're Lance Armstrong to keep you alive long enough for it work". Somewhat to everyone's surprise this turned out to be a highly effective plan. Lance's survival was mostly due to the fact that his cardio/vascular system practically qualifies him as an X-Man.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rampant mac (561036)
          "Lance's survival was mostly due to the fact that his cardio/vascular system practically qualifies him as an X-Man."

          Seeing as what happened to his balls, I think you meant EX-Man.

  • look at polaroid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:05AM (#26159251) Journal

    Which crashed and burned after its leader, Ed Land, died. Part of this of course was the film/digital transition, but even so, the collapse of polaroid was spectecular.
    One thing apple employees might take particulare note of: polaroid employees had a lot of their pension in polaroid stock, and the CEOs afte Land screwed them royally beyond belief.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:07AM (#26159271)
    Apple survived from 1985 to 1996, didn't they?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Barely.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        It was during this period that they introduced the Powerbook and PowerPC chip, so it was FAR from some complete failure.
    • by andy9701 (112808)

      They did, but only barely. I recall hearing that shortly before they acquired NEXT that the chief executives were shopping the company around, hoping to get bought out. However no one even wanted to buy them.

      Apple of 1985 is very different from the Apple of 2008, however. I would say that Apple is much, much more popular now than it was then. While the Mac probably hasn't gained much marketshare since then, the popularity of the iPod and iPhone have given Apple a pretty solid foundation right now. In the sh

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:11AM (#26159307) Homepage
    Ah yes, nothing like journalistic scummery. Begin with offensively ludicrous theory, slowly injecting more and more practicality (if tabloid, do not bother) into the scenario being portrayed until such a time that the reader has read the article, clicked on the ads on the page, finally realising that what he/she read was a whole lot of nothing.

    Rinse and repeat
  • Inevitable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:19AM (#26159383) Homepage Journal

    Already people are discussing Apple's time-line, and how poorly they did without Jobs. The real point is the product that turned Apple around was not a computer, but a music player. The reason the iPod did not exist sooner was because the technology did not exist. Hard drives could not be made that small, color LCD panels were too expensive for consumer use, battery life was too short, etc. So did Steve Jobs merely come back to Apple when the iPod was simply an inevitability? Was he responsible for that inevitability ending up under Apple's control instead of Sony or Pioneer, etc?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheLink (130905)
      There were many portable music players before the iPod.

      But none that captured the public's mind share quite as much and in such a great way.
    • Re:Inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehundre[ ]rg ['d.o' in gap]> on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:31AM (#26159487) Journal
      The iMac did a lot for Apple too.

      It was a significant part of computer sales for a season, and Apple's first real stab into non-design for years.

      The iMac is part of how Apple has been so profitable, market at every price point, but have your low end lack features, so nobody can make do that need a little more. The iPod shuffle for example has less features than the original MP3 player (no screen), yet it is Apple, and cheap.

      If you want a real MP3 player, you need to buy the overpriced Nano (well it fluctuates between reasonable and overpriced, depending on where it is in life cycle).

      The iPod already dominated before the color screens even, it was just better looking, and smaller. There essentially isn't even a competing HD based MP3 player market anymore.
  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:24AM (#26159413) Homepage

    He's an excellent businessman, but let's look at what brought Apple back, in order:

    1) The iMac, which was just a heavily consumer-oriented Mac desktop. This wasn't really a big innovation for Apple, but was the sort of smart business move they needed.

    2) The iPod--which wasn't Jobs' idea.

    3) MacOS X

    4) The fairly high quality of the MacBook and MacBook Pro Line

    5) The transition to Intel

    6) The iPhone

    I love my Apple TV, but it's not a very successful product, over all. Time capsule is probably about the same. The Cube was a failure, and quite frankly the MacBook Air ONLY has its form factor going for it (otherwise it is so hellaciously overpriced that it's like a time warp back to the mid 1990s for Apple).

    I don't really see a whole lot in that list that is unique to Jobs. What Apple needs is competent management that are aggressive and willing to take risks. That is what has made Jobs a success, more than anything else. People tend to forget that some of his ideas have't gone anywhere, but many of them have because they were calculated risks that only a non-risk averse CEO would make.

    • Re:Well (Score:4, Informative)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:49AM (#26159735) Journal

      I love my Apple TV, but it's not a very successful product, over all. Time capsule is probably about the same. The Cube was a failure, and quite frankly the MacBook Air ONLY has its form factor going for it (otherwise it is so hellaciously overpriced that it's like a time warp back to the mid 1990s for Apple).

      The fact that a lot of people buy a MacBook Air despite its ridiculous price/performance ratio and solely for its form factor, is saying a lot about the importance of the package technology comes in. Same for the iPhone: from a pure functional point of view it's not a very good phone, and it has a few issues that we would not accept from any other manufacturer, but still people are literally lining up to get their hands on one. Despite some important areas where the iPhone performs poorly, there are other things like the form factor, design and ease-of-use where it outshines the competition.

      And it's precisely design, form factor and ease-of-use where Steve Jobs has a lot of influence. Perhaps not directly as a designer, but as a (purportedly) insanely demanding critic. Someone ascribed Apple's success as a trendsetter in design to this; where other companies design for an identified or assumed market segment, Apple designs for Steve Jobs, a rich gadget freak who happens to have a decent taste.

      • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cowscows (103644) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:51PM (#26161405) Journal

        Minor nitpick, but I think it's misleading to speak of "functionality" separate from "ease-of-use." One of the roots of Apple's continued success is their understanding that for a very large percentage of consumers, if a particular function isn't easy to use, it might as well not exist. My cellphone technically has a web browser in it, but it's so awkward that it might as well not be there. I haven't used it in years, despite the fact that I've often been in positions where looking something up real quick would've been useful. The same goes for my phone's mp3 player. Despite the laundry list of functionality that was printed on the box it came in, my phone might as well do nothing other than make calls and display the time, because that's all I can use it for without it driving me crazy.

      • Same for the iPhone: from a pure functional point of view it's not a very good phone, and it has a few issues that we would not accept from any other manufacturer

        That's completely false. I would have gladly accepted the iPhone as is lock, stock and barrel from any other manufacturer - especially Palm. Think of all the people that accepted more limited functionality with worse for factors in smart phones for years, just to get the functionality they offered...

        You are right that design (which encompasses us

    • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tiro (19535) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:34AM (#26160279) Journal

      Jobs founded Next which created much of the technology underlying OS X.

      The success of OS X has a lot to do with the fact that the core technologies were incubated for eight years. You can go on YouTube and see Jobs' keynote presentations from when he was at Next (someone posted them in comments on /. yesterday)./p.

    • Re:Well (Score:4, Informative)

      by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @02:04PM (#26162455) Journal

      > the MacBook Air ONLY has its form factor going for it

      That's like saying that the only thing going for drills is that you can make holes with them.

  • OpenSource Mac OS X (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quazion (237706) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:27AM (#26159451) Homepage

    I dont really care as long they just OpenSource Mac OS X if things go bad...

  • by winningham.2 (666628) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:30AM (#26159483)

    I don't know how fair TFA is but...

    Apple would do a lot better in my department (one of the biggest departments at one of the biggest universities in the world) if they would get serious about enterprise support.

    My gripes:
    1) If my Xserv fails, I need to call Apple, they will possibly send parts or repairmen but they really want me to fix it myself using my spare kit. I just don't feel that is optimal compared to IBM server support.

    2) Their volume discount is a total rip-off. Again, I am at a major university and our discount is basically the same as the Apple Education Store discount. It is really hard for me to justify my purchases and commitment to Apple.

    3) On a related topic, I know months in advance what machines are coming out and can thus plan accordingly. Apple, with its flair for the dramatic, wants to keep all this hidden and secret. Again it really hurts my efforts when compared to IBM, Dell, and HP.

    4) The Apple support network is a total joke compared to Microsoft or even Novell. Basically I have the same support that non-enterprise Linux has. My best sources are AFP548, MacEnterprise, and sometimes the Apple Support forums.

    5) For those of us that have to integrate with a Microsoft world, AD-OD integration still has a long way to go. Apple seems to break their AD support with every other service pack. I can't believe this couldn't be done better. I know Microsoft has issues with their service packs, but honestly, does it have to be this bad?

    Basically I feel that Apple is such a consumer company rather than enterprise. This hurts Apple penetration, bottom-line sales, and future buy-in from potential customers who want to use the same platform at home that they use at work.
    Steve Jobs just can't get out of his own ego's way to let the correct thing happen. Matt Feeman, our sales rep, is a total waste yet has carried his job for many many years now. There really is no fun left in Apple and only diehard fanboys (myself?) can continue to run what is, IMHO, the Unix-like distributions.

    • Is exactly the same as yours.

      I'm the IT director for a small private school, and my "enterprise issues" are identical to yours.

      My favorite question by Apple support, when calling about our xserves, is : "Is your xserve in a basic or advanced configuration?"

      What does it matter? You sold me the product, support it no matter what the configuration.

      Apple really needs to get their head around the enterprise. Why bother selling Xserves, and Xsans if you aren't going to support them properly?

      -ted

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:43AM (#26159651)

    The most efficient form of governance is a dictatorship. This is not to say that it is a universally ideal form of government -- for every example we have of an autocrat who was able to get what he wanted and happened to be correct, we can find many other examples of autocrats who got what they wanted and were dead wrong.

    It is easier for a man of singular vision, foresight, and ambition to stand out as a dictator than as one of a committee but men of singular ignorance and venality tend to do less harm in committee form because they're like crabs in a bucket and it's hard for one to rise to preeminence and control.

    By all accounts, Jobs is a bastard to work for. What makes it all the more galling is that is judgment calls are usually right so when your design needs more work, he'll tell you you're a fucking piece of shit, get the hell out of his sight, don't you fucking come back until you have something that doesn't make him want to vomit you cocksucker, you'll want to punch him in the throat. Yes, he could have been nicer about it, but by the time you finally come back with a design he likes, it'll also be the one the customers will go nuts for.

    It's very rare to find that kind of person. When Jobs was booted out the first time, they brought in an airline executive as CEO. He didn't know anything about the industry and said all of Jobs' ideas weren't sticking to the knitting, were going out into left field and would waste money. Pragmatic business people agreed. Hell, I thought going into the music business when they were already struggling making computers was a bad idea. Looks like I was wrong.

    What's driving Apple right now is a productive cult of personality. There's simply not a viable line of succession. Alexander the Great dies, the empire falls apart. Stalin dies, the empire lurches on but nobody in the party leadership will ever again risk letting someone gain that much power again. It's possible for a leader to rise up within the ranks of an existing organization and take it over with such force that you would think he was the founder. Jack Welch did that with GE. Because the market value went from $14 billion to $410 billion under his watch, he's lauded as a genius. Personally, I think he was more like an asshole who got lucky, got some breaks, and knew how to shaft the right people at the right time. He'd been picked as the golden boy to succeed to the leadership role by the previous CEO who later came to regret that decision because Jack poisoned the corporate culture much like a Carly Fiorina. Wall Street didn't seem to care because he made the trains run on time and that's all that mattered.

    What's interesting is Microsoft seems to be struggling from both the lack of vision and the bureaucratic bloat that paralyzes large organizations and prevents meaningful action. This kind of strategic paralysis is usually the opening needed for a competitor to swoop in and steal the market. Apple would normally be in that position except for the huge questions concerning Jobs' prospects for this world. If both companies become wadded up with stupidity, will it finally become Linux's year for the desktop by default?

    • by Gunfighter (1944)

      I can be a bastard to work for. I'll succeed him. Jobs may not be a genius, but I am.

      There... now a viable line of succession is available to Apple's shareholders. Apple is poised to continue their success.

      One condition: I will not be wearing black turtlenecks during keynote speeches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      You just gave me the best idea ever to replace jobs. Hire Chef Gordon Ramsey, of Hells Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares fame. He has no problem telling you that your finely crafted and prepared dish makes him want to vomit, and call the police on you for attempted murder. He's great at reducing people to tears! And, they could make it part of a reality TV series, to increase brand awareness even more!

  • by BornAgainSlakr (1007419) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:50AM (#26159741)

    Jobs does not do anything magical. It might have been his idea to make a better phone, but he did not design the iPhone.

    Rather, he had the vision of how a phone would fit into the ``iLife,'' he held designs to high standards, and he made sure that everyone focused on integration with existing products and the consistency of the experience.

    Standards and focus are what most people view as his ``dictator'' personality.

    This is pretty much what, I feel anyway, Microsoft has always lacked.

    They have no vision. Remember Ballmer scoffing the very notion that the iPhone would have any success at all, let alone surpass WinMo as it just did.

    I cannot say that they have low standards per se. Rather, their standard is to let the user design their software (the focus groups that designed Vista; something about which Gates was proud).

    They lack any sort of focus. Vista is a prime example of this. It is obvious when using Vista that no one had a plan. No one provided any focus. Compound this with the myriad of products Microsoft makes which barely even work each other...even in the same product family (incompatibilities between Mac Office and Win Office).

    So, yeah, those are the three qualities I want to see in a successor to Jobs. There should be plenty of people at Apple with those qualities. Actually, there are plenty of those people anywhere...people like Ballmer just do not recognize them or think they are important. I trust Jobs to find an appropriate person to replace him.

    Also, let's not forget to embrace change. Even someone like Jobs needs to be replaced eventually. They just have to be replaced carefully.

  • MacWorld etc (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fartrader (323244) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @10:50AM (#26159743)

    I suspect the ending of these big "look at the next big thing" conferences Apple runs on a regular basis are part of transitioning Jobs out of the public eye. They need to disconnect Steve Jobs from the "ergonomic/chic/cool/it just works", brand. His presentations enforce the assumption that Jobs and his product line are inextricably linked.

  • by actionbastard (1206160) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:03AM (#26159891)
    How could any company survive without an egotistic megalomaniac perfectionist anal retentive button hater [apple.com] at the helm? Well Jobs doesn't design the computers Jonathan Ive [apple.com] does, so designs are covered. He doesn't manage the hardware engineering, Bob Mansfield [apple.com] has that responsibility. Operating system is Bertrand Serlet [apple.com] and applications is Sina Tamaddon [apple.com], with Scott Forstall [apple.com] managing iPhone software, so we're covered on those. Phil Schiller [apple.com] is the marketing brain behind Apple's recent successes, so that's okay. Retailing is covered by Ron Johnson [apple.com] and let's not forget that Tim Cook [apple.com] handles DTD operations. There's also a few 'heavy-set' bean counters around to rearrange the cash loaf they've acquired after Steve plays naked in the pile, so the money is okay, too.

    So, why does Apple need ST_VE? Do they need him to run around all day screaming, "Your designs suck, Jon! Make them MORE minimal!", "Bob, your code is SHIT! Fix it!", "Ron! Sell more STUFF!", "The rest of you, if you can't make everything INSANELY GREAT, no more free Jolt Cola in the cafeteria!"? So Apple needs him, how, to survive? If they need a 'visionary', they can always find another crazy 'Steve', here [microsoft.com]. In the long run, the company is well manned to maintain it's position and 'grow the brand' even if Jobs is relegated to prowling the dark halls at 1IL in his bathrobe and Birkenstocks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Farmer Tim (530755)

      If they need a 'visionary', they can always find another crazy 'Steve', here [microsoft.com].

      And yet Microsoft, with it's equivalent pool of talent and far greater resources, comes up with products like Vista and the Zune. Congratulations on so effectively negating your own argument.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @11:10AM (#26159987) Homepage

    Hire Willy Wonka!!! If there is any character that is on par with Steve Jobs and his showmanship, it is Willy Wonka... preferably the Johnny Depp version, but even the Gene Wilder version would suffice.

  • Apple = Van Halen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DorkRawk (719109) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:02PM (#26160667) Homepage
    Ok, sure, Eddie Van Halen (Jonathan Ive) is making all the music and providing the real artistic genius behind the band. But David Lee Roth (Steve Jobs) made everybody listen to it.

    Don't discredit the value of man with a vision and a big mouth.
  • by Crispix (864691) on Thursday December 18, 2008 @12:12PM (#26160811)
    Jobs had a Whipple procedure -- a major operation that removes part of the pancreas and re-wires hit guts. The 5-year survival rate is around 25%, and Steve is right at the 5 years. I could not find 10-year survival stats, but even with a successful surgery and claims that he is "cancer-free", a Whipple means a shortened life span. Weight loss is a known complication. But who is he kidding? He's skipping the keynote because of his health. He's probably skinnier and more sickly-looking than before, and any other excuse is just that: an excuse. Warren Buffet knows he is not immortal, and while he has not named his specific successor, he has made numerous statements that it is taken care of, and Berkshire Hathaway is fully prepared for his eventual death. Jobs needs to do the same, and now. I hope he stays at Apple for a long time, but realistically he could be dead in a year.

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