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Apple's Life After Steve Jobs 405

animusCollards writes "Slate ponders a post-Steve Jobs Apple, including possible successors, and the future is... boring. ''s certainly true that Jobs' style is central to the company's brand and the fierce connection it forges with its customers. His product announcements prompt hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free press coverage and whip up greater and more loyal fans, generating ever-greater interest in the company. ... At some point, all that will end. Jobs will eventually leave the company. There are no obvious plans for succession; in addition to Schiller, observers finger Tim Cook, Apple's COO, and Scott Forstall, who helped develop Mac OS X and the iPhone's software, as contenders for the job. But Tuesday's keynote illustrated how difficult it will be for any of those guys to replace Jobs.'"
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Apple's Life After Steve Jobs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:04PM (#26358433)
    Jobs will eventually leave the company? I thought he was immortal. Damn you reality distortion field!
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dupple ( 1016592 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:05PM (#26358451)
    How did Tuesdays Keynote illustrate 'how difficult it will be for any of those guys to replace Jobs.'? Just a bloggers opinion, nothing to see here, please move along
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:09PM (#26358495)

      How did Tuesdays Keynote illustrate 'how difficult it will be for any of those guys to replace Jobs.'? Just a bloggers opinion, nothing to see here, please move along

      None of them look good in a black turtleneck. It's a little-known fact that Steve Jobs has not run Apple for some time now. Rather, the turtleneck is firmly in charge. If it can't find a suitable host when Jobs kicks the bucket, the company is doomed.

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:53PM (#26359133)

        None of them look good in a black turtleneck.

        That video engineer guy was sure trying, though. Pity about the Office Space obsession, though.

        "I'm just gonna go ahead and..."

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:18PM (#26358621) Homepage

      Likely, for the same reason that it would be difficult for Collin Powell to replace Barack Obama: Powell isn't Obama, and does not have the rabid, awestruck fan base.

      You can not replace people who have a cult built around them. Someone different has to replace the cult. I would expect any successful heir to Jobs' throne to radically change the Apple Image (tm) without any drastic underpinning changes. Black plastic instead of white, maybe? That's probably drastic enough for the demographic we're talking about.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by El Yanqui ( 1111145 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:24PM (#26358713) Homepage

        We know who Steve Jobs is because we're nerdy, we follow things like Apple's keynote address and read /. Do you honestly think the average consumer out there, you know, the ones who are buying up iPods, iPhones and switching to Macs are doing so out of adoration for Steve Jobs? They might be doing it on the merits, for fashion to follow the trends or whatever other reason but I seriously doubt it's due to a crush on a guy in a black turtleneck. Most people couldn't pick him out of a lineup.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by lwriemen ( 763666 )

          Yes! The average consumer associates Apple with the Mac guy in the commercials. Maybe he should replace Jobs, at least as a figurehead. :-D

        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:46PM (#26359039)

          They might be doing it on the merits, for fashion to follow the trends or whatever other reason but I seriously doubt it's due to a crush on a guy in a black turtleneck. Most people couldn't pick him out of a lineup.

          You might be right, but the people who are setting the trend and extolling Apple's merits are those who do know who Jobs is. Apple can likely keep the position it has right now without Jobs, but if they can't replace his expertise, then they'll have a hard time expanding their product line like they've done in the past few years. Steve Jobs has an amazing ability to relate to the crowd, he's good at producing soundbites so he can relate to people on the internet, and he's already cultivated an image of excellence that's largely linked to the man himself.

          Whether the average consumer knows it or not, the people that make the decisions and recommendations know who Steve Jobs is, and it's undoubtedly helped with their success.

          • by ErkDemon ( 1202789 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:51PM (#26367003) Homepage
            (darkened room, dimly-lit stage)

            "... so at Apple, we thought, what's the next step? Where does data storage go from here? And our engineers told us: Atoms! We're going to build the data directly into the molecular structure!"

            "And here's what they gave us."

            (Holds up object. Crowd ooohs, awestruck.)

            (A spotlight high behind Jobs shines on Job's upraised right hand, gleaming off the surface of what appears to be a shiny black disclike object, hypnotising the crowd.)

            "As you can see, the new product has no straight lines, and no corners. And for data registration purposes, it has (Jobs suddenly tilts the object, back, allowing the spotlight to pick out a gleaming white spot at the disk's centre) ... a Hole!"

            (crowd gasps)

            "Notice how the Hole is at the EXACT centre of the disc. Not on the left. Not on the right. Our engineers told us that this placement was a critical feature for the playback process. So that's where we put it. Right in the middle."

            (crowd cheers, until Jobs put up a hand signifying that he wants them to stop)

            (hushed tones) "This is not just a nice looking object. This is a truly BEAUTIFUL object. You could hang this on your wall. Notice how the surface gleams. We could have made this out of cheap plastic ... but no. We decided to manufacture this out of the finest carbon-blacked Vinyl."

            (crowd whoops)

            "Now, wait until you see this brand-new user interface. We place the "disc" onto the "turntable", and the disc rotates AUTOMATICALLY. We place the arm anywhere on the disc. Anywhere at all!"
            (music plays)
            (Jobs lists the arm and puts it down somewhere else.)
            (music plays)
            (Jobs repeats, looking up at the audience and grinning each time)

            "Now, isn't that just the Coolest thing you ever saw?"

            (Audience applauds wildly)

            "Now, how'll we be selling these. Well, we'll be packaging them in a special two-layer format that we call a "sleeve" ..."

        • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:37PM (#26359799)

          Agreed. RDF exaggerated.

          Jobs is remarkable in that he Part product visionary, part perfectionist taskmaster, part marketing guru, and part charismatic showman.

          But more is made of his lesser role as showman than is warranted. I seriously doubt anything more than 10% of Apple product owners have ever even watched a Keynote. Steve Jobs charisma is nice for the free press it gets them but little else. If they keep building good products and doing half decent marketing there will be no problem. I don't watch the keynotes, but read about them. I was disappointed because there was no Mac Mini, not because Jobs wasn't there.

          But in my opinion the greater loss might be in the loss of Steve Jobs the product visionary with the right measure of taskmaster.

          I don't think these roles can be filled at a post Jobs Apple by one person. The probably need at CTO visionary/taskmaster + CEO-Showman. The should be figuring Steves roles in the company and how they can interact if those roles are split among different people. At some point the should staff all the roles and let Jobs supervise them, but let them run with it, but only if he feels that he is planning to leave sooner rather than later.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:31PM (#26358831) Homepage

        You can not replace people who have a cult built around them. Someone different has to replace the cult.

        Not entirely true.

        Sure, I was upset when I had to remove my Tom Baker figure from my shrine and replace it with Peter Davidson. It was painful again when I took Peter down and put up Colin Baker. Recently I had to remove Christopher Eccleston and put up David Tennant, who'll I'll be removing soon again.

        It hurts every time - Regeneration is a painful process. But I'm still a loyal cult member.

    • I think because most people have seen that keynote as downright uninteresting. Having not listened to it I'm not sure how the speaker did, but I can personally say that even Jobs himself couldn't have made those announcements any good. Aside from the removal of DRM from iTunes they basically announced nothing of any value to me (and from reading Mac fan sites, a lot of people feel about the same way).

  • by olddotter ( 638430 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:06PM (#26358455) Homepage

    While stock owners of companies like Apple or Berkshire Hathaway may wish their CEO's could like forever. Jobs while "great" is still a double edged sword for Apple. Granted one side is sharper than the other at the moment.

    But a less charismatic person could make different decisions that get Apple way more into the main stream. I could go on, but work is busy today.... :-(

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:07PM (#26358473) Journal

      But a less charismatic person could make different decisions that get Apple way more into the main stream.

      Like Dell or Gateway?

      No, thanks.


      • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:19PM (#26358635)

        But a less charismatic person could make different decisions that get Apple way more into the main stream.

        Like Dell or Gateway?

        No, like John Scully.

        No, thanks.

        More, like, NO THANKS! Scully's time at Apple was disastrous. While everyone at the time said that "mainstream" line was the best strategy for Apple.

      • I'm thinking more like an AppleTV with DVR capabilities, instead of being tied to the iTunes store.
        I could give more examples. And might do a blog post when I have more time. Apple has some brilliance products, but some are close/locked down too much to have appeal to the masses.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bennomatic ( 691188 )
          Forget DVR; I just want my ATV to be able to access the free--even advertiser-supported--content on places like Hulu and even the HD content provided by the networks themselves. I'd ditch cable in a minute if I could watch Lost a day or two later without having to buy it.

          I actually don't mind buying it--I've done it before--but I'd rather pay less (or nothing with advertising) and stream it rather than 2 bux an episode which is enough to make you think, "I need to archive this, rather than just throwin
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Meh. Yes, I realize that Apple going more mainstream would mean that Apple would no longer be "cool" or "hip", but I think that at the end of the day Apple needs to broaden their market some or face extinction. They've positioned themselves as a fashion accessory. The thing is fashion accessories eventually fall out of fashion.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rsborg ( 111459 )

          ...I think that at the end of the day Apple needs to broaden their market some or face extinction.

          You and every other mainstream tech pundit since the 90s. Guess what... you've been wrong for over a decade now. Fashion tech apparently sells and sells well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jbolden ( 176878 )

          They faced extinction 10 years ago. Now they are rapidly growing, successful in multiple markets, face no serious structural issues which are hampering further growth, have tremendous mind share, huge goodwill.

          Yeah they are in a heap of trouble.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alexborges ( 313924 )

      However, that has never worked at apple. What has worked at apple is Jobs.

      Of course, they SHOULD be able to find a charismatic developer insufflated in a jihad to change the computing and entretainment lifestyle of the world, the question is:

      Aint that Jobs's Job?

      He should go out and find his mesianical replacement so that the company can move forward without making investors nervous.

    • Jobs while "great" is still a double edged sword for Apple.

      I don't really see it. What's the other edge of that "double edge sword"?

      Supposedly Jobs can be a bit of an a-hole sometimes, but it doesn't seem to hamper Apple's success. There are only a handful of things that I think Apple should do differently-- like including a mid-range mini-tower in their lineup to fill the gap between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro.

  • by utahraptor ( 703433 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:07PM (#26358477) Homepage

    I don't know if it was just a lack of Jobs or a lack of innovation, but this was the first one of these that really lacked something new and fresh. Quite frankly none of it excited me this round.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pauljlucas ( 529435 )

      ... this was the first one of these that really lacked something new and fresh.

      As stated elsewhere, it's supposedly because Apple is tired of being a slave to the MacWorld schedule whereby (1) they have to have all the new, cool stuff ready by January that (2) hurts their Christmas sales because lots of people wait until MacWorld to see what's new before buying. Apple is successful enough (and has been for a while) now that it doesn't need MacWorld they way it used to. This was Apple's last keynote addr

    • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:04PM (#26359291)

      The rumor sites were expecting practically everything including the kitchen sink, so by failing to introduce new iMacs, new Mac minis, the iPhone nano and... did I miss anything?, Apple didn't live up to their (completely delusional) expectations.

      What really gets me is tech news sites - even MacWorld - calling the 17" MacBook Pro "disappointing" or "unattractive" because it's just a larger-form-factor MBP. Uh... hasn't it always been? Haven't the 15" and 17" always been pretty similar internally? And it's got this spiffy new battery made with Romulan technology, and anti-glare screens are back, and oh, yeah, there's a third USB port, woohoo.

      It's funny, though - Apple is such a style cult, and has such a following, that the 17" MBP is being judged against... what, exactly? People's delusional expectations, apparently. Because it's not "disappointing" or "unattractive" when you compare it with every other 17" notebook in existence, is it? 1920x1280, check. 2.93GHz processor option, check. 256GB SSD option, check. Up to 8GB of RAM, check. 1066MHz FSB, check. 802.11n, check. ExpressWhatever, check. FW800, check. Dual video chipsets, check.

      Yeah, I can probably get all those features somewhere else (though a fair bit of googling wasn't exactly productive)... but in a package under 25mm thick and under 3kg, with at least the potential for 8 hours of battery life? Fuhgeddaboudit. Doesn't sound so "disappointing" or "unattractive" to me.

      And really, the MBPs won't be fully exploited until Snow Leopard and OpenCL drop, right?

      • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:45PM (#26359923)

        "with at least the potential for 8 hours of battery life"

        Every laptop I ever owned clamied similar, and usually turned itself off after around the 2 hours 45 minutes mark.

        But what amazes me, is that the battery is non-removable, so if it shorts or has some other problem, back to the approved iMac store for Joe Fanboi, and another whopping bill for service.

        Doesn't the fact that Apple even lock you in on the battery tell you anything ?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by WiiVault ( 1039946 )
          Apple is unique in that they are pretty conservative with their battery life stats. Often, but not always, products actually exceed the rated amount.
        • by RedK ( 112790 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:03PM (#26362133)
          The battery is guaranteed for 3 years, and my MB battery can do the advertised 5 hours if I'm web browsing on 802.11n wireless.
    • by davew ( 820 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:25PM (#26359581) Journal

      Quite frankly none of it excited me this round.

      I can't believe that the removal from DRM from the iTunes music store isn't bigger news. I think it's huge news. This is the single biggest remaining reason why people are nervous about moving to downloaded music, and it's gone. I'm delighted.

  • Come On... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:08PM (#26358481) Journal
    Ok look. I love my Apple gear. My MacBookPro is by far the best laptop I have owned in a long series of laptops. I like hearing about interesting new tech stuff coming from Apple. New gadgets like the new MBP and its battery, the dropping of DRM, those are geek worthy stories. But seriously, how many damned times is slashdot going to rehash this "What will we ever do without our beloved Steve Jobs!?" story?

    How about we just leave it at this. Regardless of who takes over the company next I am sure we can all agree, regardless if you love or hate Apple, that he will probably be more stable and qualifed that the Chair Tossing Google Killer that took over that other really big tech company...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 )

      The only reason this keeps coming up is because so many remember the years when Jobs was not heading the company. I don't know about you, but I definitely don't want my future Apple computers looking like children's toys again.

      • but I definitely don't want my future Apple computers looking like children's toys again.

        I thought the iMac was Job's doing? Non-jobs desktop Macs were almost all beige boxes, some with nifty front-panel designs, but mostly beige.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:10PM (#26358513) Homepage

    Say what you like about Apple (I usually do) but one thing that can't be denied is that Apple does what it does starkly in the face of existing trends and directions. They do it their own way regardless of whether or not the general consensus thinks it's a good idea.

    This makes Apple a very popular trend setter and many people really like that about Apple.

    This is made possible because Apple leadership is run by an asshole. And I don't mean that in a bad way either. Jobs does what he does from what appears to be pure inspiration. People just eat that up too. He is the Willy Wonka of the computer world.

    There can't be another one... there will not be another one. Apple will become a blob of its former self and people will make decisions the way they feel most comfortable... incremental changes and improvements, following trends and very rarely will frighteningly new ideas get thrust into the limelight as they have been under Jobs.

    But we will also see something that people have been begging for... something that competes HEAD to HEAD with Microsoft. And Apple will WIN.

    • Funny that you mention Willy Wonka... I just bought a new Mac laptop, and there was a golden ticket inside!
    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) * on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:29PM (#26358797) Homepage

      But we will also see something that people have been begging for... something that competes HEAD to HEAD with Microsoft. And Apple will WIN.

      I believe that would be rather errouneus. Apple isn't playing in Microsoft's sandbox. Particularly the Enterprise one. Too many big bullies there. Apple will be more than happy to play in it's metrosexual box with all the dolls and shiny things. Laughing all the way to the bank. Why does everybody think that Apple wants to deal with Enterprise issues?

      • Why does everybody think that Apple wants to deal with Enterprise issues?

        Because they're slowly creeping into it with online office apps, a Blackberry competitor, and server software. The iPhone is primarily targeted at the consumer. But the office apps and server software are completely targeted at small business.

      • This is precisely what I predict changing.

        Apple strategizes as it does largely at the direction of Jobs. When Jobs is gone, this is one change I expect to see. I expect them to head straight for the enterprise desktop.

    • Jobs is capitalism to a T. He is exploiting a market by any means acceptable and doing a damn good job at it. If anything Apple will fail when the person running the show starts to actually be concerned with what the public wants instead of telling the public what he wants.

      Apple is marketed very well and a big part of marketing is convincing people they must have it even if it isn't what they want or need.

  • by thetorpedodog ( 750359 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:12PM (#26358539) Homepage
    ...when even Apple is forced to consider the possibility of losing Jobs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:13PM (#26358545)

    I am the very model of an iPod fashion follower,
    My waist is getting thinner but my head is getting hollower,
    I know the name of every Mac, in Apple stores a wallower,
    And at the MacWorld every year I tell Steve I'm a swallower.
    (Yes at the MacWorld every year he tells Steve he's a swallower)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am the very model of a corporation CEO
      My trousers pressed, my shirt is white, my laces tied up in a bow.
      My armpits clammy and my cheeks are rosy as a sweet Bordeaux,
      But if you cross my ample path a chair in your smug face I'll throw!


  • by Gerafix ( 1028986 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:13PM (#26358553)
    They just need to go back in time with their Time Machine and set Jobs back to his uncorrupted state.
  • The simple solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:16PM (#26358583) Homepage

    There is a simple solution: just follow the mac rumour sites and skim the ideas which make sense (physical, technological, ergonomic, etc.) and turn them into products. Voila, instant fan-inspiring advertising, for free..

    Part of me wonders if that isn't what they've been doing for the last couple years.

    Of course, that's depending on whether Apple lasts. Apple has always ridden on top of the financial waves, so to speak, by catering to the upper financial strata... That strata might not be around much longer, and younger people, for the most part, don't regard computer differences with quite as much difference as we have in the past.

  • "At some point, all that will end. Jobs will eventually leave the company."

    Either with his shield or on it?
  • by Markvs ( 17298 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:17PM (#26358603) Journal
    The same thing will happen: Apple will devolve again and be directionless, perhaps again bringing in a big soda company executive for CEO. History repeats itself. Market share will drop.
    The problem with many firms (in IT especially Microsoft, Apple and Dell) is that they were built around their founders and really can't perform as a corporate culture without them. And without a vibrant corporate culture, the firm stagnates or fails. Commodore or Wang anyone?

    USA Today ran a story on it a few months back... []
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:26PM (#26358747) Homepage

      They already are!

      Apple used to OWN the video editing market. Final cut WAS the defacto standard.

      Well come 2009 and we have no update. we cant author BluRay DVD's because apple bet the farm on HD-DVD so now our DVD authoring app is useless. My only choice is some crappy 3rd party apps (Yes adobe's offering is crap)

      Apple is dragging it's feet in it's professional lines and it's causing them issues. They have been focusing completely on the "oooh shiney" general public and ignoring their professionals on the backend.

      I want my FCP Suite 3 that fixes the problems with the current one and give me native suite bluray menu authoring.

      • I'm dying for a Mac Mini with a Blu-ray drive and player software.

        I don't understand what you mean when you say that Apple bet the farm on HD DVD. I don't think they ever released any HD DVD products. And they're not just members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, they're on the board!

        I think they're backed into the corner by HDCP, but the situation was the same with HD DVD.

        What am I missing?


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by solios ( 53048 )

          Disc authoring.

          Presently, DVD Studio Pro (the "end" component of the Final Cut Studio for many people) will author for DVD and HD-DVD. It will not author for Blu-Ray.

          Why this is, is anybody's guess.

          Until they pull their heads out of their asses, the ONLY way (that I'm aware of, anyway) to author Blu-Ray video discs on a Mac is to run Adobe Encore on an Intel-based machine. This not only screws over those of us who can't stand Adobe's video software (I've used Encore, and only because I had to - I'll never

      • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:12PM (#26360383) Homepage

        At least according to Apple their problems aren't technical, they can't figure out how to license this in a cost effective manner. I.E. the problem is really with Sony.

        Don't know if it is true or not, but they have fairly specific in what the issues are. AFAIK the recommended solution is QuickTime to author the movie and then build the menus using a professional Hollywood system.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Refrag ( 145266 )

        we cant author BluRay DVD's because apple bet the farm on HD-DVD so now our DVD authoring app is useless.

        Huh? Apple is a member of the Blu-Ray camp. Microsoft is the one that backed HD-DVD. []

        You're right about their pro tools, though. It is surprising that Apple hasn't either updated DVD Studio Pro to support Blu-Ray authoring or partnered with a third party to provide integration between Final Cut Studio and a Blu-Ray mastering application. []

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:20PM (#26358643) Homepage Journal
    I thought God was immortal!
  • It wasn't interesting enough to get my attention at the time, but didn't Apple do without Jobs for a while a few years ago? What happened then is probably a fair prediction of what would happen now.

    Is anyone here old enough to remember?

  • I am no fan of Apple as a company, but I do appreciate what they've done. The same thing holds true for Microsoft and Bill Gates. Apple was doing well because of Steve Jobs, then went into a decline when he left. Because of his return Apple enjoys the popularity and success it holds today.

    Bill Gates has left Microsoft (sort of) and Microsoft is rapidly declining. Hewlett and Packard left HP and look where that company is now. These were all visionaries and good businessmen. You can't just replace so
    • I think it's pretty safe to say that neither Bill Hewlett or David Packard will be back to lift the HP back into glory.

      All kidding aside, I don't know how much Jobs or Gates can be considered engineers or developers any longer. Does anyone really know how long it's been since either of these guys has done hands-on anything? My guess is that Gates hasn't coded in well over 15 years. I wonder if the boy could even do a group policy edit if he had to.
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#26358733) Homepage Journal

    Steve Jobs died in a car wreck in 1988. The current "Steve Jobs" is San Jose session musician, Roland Trisk. Trisk, who often doubled for Steve Jobs before his death in sales meetings and conferences, had plastic surgery in order closely resemble Jobs. There are hints everywhere-in the enclosure of the Mac LCII, the first NeXT CUBE, even Pixar's first full-length film, Toy Story. Wake up people! The truth is out there!

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:27PM (#26358769)

    I love Macs, so this isn't disparagements or drawing Apple customers like a cult (perhaps corporate culture?). But Scientology had one of the most wacked out, eccentric, but strangle charismatic (to some people I suppose) founders. After his death, its not just thriving but even gets people like Will Smith hooked. It's headed by David Mascavige [] although few people heard of him. I would argue that this state of Scientology is due purely to it's organizational structure rather than any one man.

    Having a good leader will be important. But the corporate culture will have to be in place. I think Jobs is very talented, but his talent was letting the good ideas and people already in Apple (or outside, like NeXT) rise while he steered them towards this greater vision. I think Jobs has a very clear vision in some ways (he said back in 90s interview Sculley destroyed everything he sought to achieve), and when he expects to be leaving, he should write it in a book what it is - so that it can inspire his company towards it.

    I think though, in the end, having a strong leader with a vision at the helm is what Apple as a company needs. What that means, is that they have to avoid putting in business men/accountants who only have the imagination to see the bottom line at the end of the day. But a pure artist is often equally disastrous with less business pragmatism. For instance, Steve was inspired by a previous calligraphy class to put extra effort in fonts in Macintosh. Most pure business men wouldn't have bothered at the time. Reading his bio, he often obsesses about aesthetic appeal.

    To nix the scientology thing from above, I could draw Apple as a design studio like Wiener Werkstatte or Bauhaus. Earlier last century, they made lots of distinctive but beautiful objects (Art Deco), going so far as to build entire houses and furnishing them. An integrated solution. On the downside, neither lasted long. It is the nature of such things, it seems. In another industry, perhaps Apple can be compared to Porsche and the father son team Ferdinand/Ferry porsche.... it survived but to me it's arguable that, while, the design spirit lives on, whether successive innovative spirit has since those two passed away.

  • No such thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:28PM (#26358787) Journal

    First off, there is no such thing as "Replacing Steve Jobs", there is only following him.

    ANYBODY who is trying to "duplicate" the Steve and his infamous RDF is going to fail, and miserably. In fact, if I was on the committee that was choosing the heir to the helm I'd ask how they plan to "replace" Jobs, and if anyone mentions anything other than .... "nobody can replace Steve" (or similar) is clearly not good enough to fill the vacancy.

    People wanting to continue the mystique after Steve leaves is going to fail . There is only one Steve Jobs.

    That doesn't mean that Apple will fail after Jobs, but rather, they need to find a new "leader", one that doesn't replace Steve, but rather one that mealy follows him.

  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:31PM (#26358817)


    (Maybe that's what Obama meant when he said he was going to create "millions of Jobs")

  • He's not gone and died again has he?

  • The one true advantage he has, is that he doesn't seem concerned about pleasing people. That goes a LONG way.

    He needs to be replaced by someone that isn't concerned with their own press, and with what the shareholders think, and what the tech industry in general thinks. They need someone that is their own person, and not simply a mouthpiece for the shareholders and other upper-level managers.

    I think a lot of companies suffer from insidious "group-think", and Apple has avoided that, probably because of Jobs.

  • That would be... how many times has he died this week in the news?

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:40PM (#26358959) Journal

    Here are my qualifications:

    • 15 years in the software industry
    • I have no problem saying 'no'
    • I believe that removing stuff can add value
    • I do not try to include all features possible
    • I only include features to make a useful device
    • I will not accept "it can't be done"
    • I will create technologies needed to achieve my concept
    • I will look to see what other companies aren't doing, and do it
  • People shouldn't be asking if someone can replace Steve Jobs. That's a no-brainer and the answer is no.

    The real question is who will Steve Jobs let follow him.

    Jobs has a real ego that drives the company from his central gravitational field. It revolves around him like planets around a sun. But he wont let someone with that kind of magnetism follow in his wake.

    If they hire from within you'll get someone who was drawn to Jobs and who could follow his vision and guidance (not a good leader).

    If they hire fro

  • Barack Obama is the only man I can think of that would fill Steve Jobs' shoes.

    Even more exiting would be the vice versa.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:11PM (#26359373) Homepage

    The Apple fanboys think Jobs is important for his design influence. But Apple's design work is actually outsourced. (Early on, Apple used frogdesign; they've since used others.)

    What really turned around Apple were two deals. One was the deal with Microsoft that kept Office on the Mac, and the other was the deal with the recording industry that put music on the iPod.

    Apple needs a dealmaker from the content industry. Probably a film executive; recording industry people are too dumb. (Really.) Successful film producers are good at getting multiple parties who don't like each other all pulling in the same direction.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:29PM (#26359643) Journal

    The admirers of Apple's cult of personality forget how it was created: Jobs drove away those who didn't fit his whims. He had the first Mac designed around his choices for the Apple II that Woz over ruled. The very act of creating it was purposely divisive, with a skull and crossbones flag flying over the Mac building, and non-Mac people barred from entry except by invitation. Rather than complimentary lines, the Mac was intended to supplant the very successful and projected to be long-lived Apple II (16 bit version in production, 32 bit processor, machine and OS in design phase). After Woz got fed up and left*, Jobs shut down the Apple II line. At every step people who'd been loyal employees, customers, third party manufacturers or fans fell away -- literally by the millions. More than once, to a lesser but significant extent, severe and abrupt changes to the Mac line instigated repeat performances of the II exodus. "Love it or leave it" seemed to be the corporate motto.

    Jobs' cantankerous ways with the remaining employees, manufacturers and fans drove away so many, including major players and stock holders, that he was taken out of the spotlight and replaced by John Scully. It took a decade for him to grow up enough to be given back the reins.

    Those remaining fans view Jobs as charismatic. Ex-fans remember him as anti-charismatic, and view him that way still if they even bother to think about him at all.

    I've recounted these and similar details before, and gotten modded down as flamebait and troll. I expect the same to happen now, despite the fact that while it may be in somewhat negative phrasing, it's accurate and verifiable in media archives and others' writings. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was an Apple II fan in the extreme, was senior/technical editor of an Apple II fan-zine (The Road Apple; the first computer media source published simultaneously in the US and USSR), and said much these same things back then. But I'm not the only one who said them. I'm just one of the very few who still bothers to recount the history that most have ceased to care about.

    * Woz left Apple primarily due to a re-examination of his life following a private plane accident. However, his displeasure at the direction of things was no secret, nor was Jobs' efforts to marginalize him. Between those, had he not had the accident, he'd almost certainly have left anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jjohnson ( 62583 )

      I don't disagree with anything you say, but I think you're missing the point. Today's admirers of the cult of personality have also matured, and have recognized that having a bastard in charge is usually the only way out of the swamp of corporate mediocrity. Farhad Manjoo's recent article in Slate about Macworld hits it: The problem with Jobs's departure will be that Apple will become another HP or Dell, selling it's particular thing that's not really distinguishable from anything else.

      Apple fanbois thes

    • by Jecel Assumpcao Jr ( 5602 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @02:48PM (#26360939) Homepage

      I think you got some details slightly wrong. If by Apple II decisions where Jobs lost to Woz you mean the expansion slots, then though Jobs was a vocal proponent of not having them on the Mac this feature was a fundamental aspect of Jef Raskin's proposal from the very beginning.

      Woz was part of the Mac project when he had his accident, but it was indeed the treatment of the Apple II group that was one of his main reasons for leaving. He did come back a few years later and worked on the 16 bit IIgs. I am not aware of any serious plans for a 32 bit Apple II but would love to hear more about it.

    • I've recounted these and similar details before, and gotten modded down as flamebait and troll.

      Well, maybe a reason for that, hmm? Like wrong information and "facts?"

      He had the first Mac designed around his choices for the Apple II that Woz over ruled.

      False. The Mac was already a project before Jobs knew anything about it. The only major disagreement between Jobs and Woz (who actually collaborated in early Mac development -- at Jobs' request) was the lack of slots.

      the Mac was intended to supplant the very successful and projected to be long-lived Apple II

      Well, duh. The whole thrust of Apple at that time was to leapfrog the IBM PC. The GUI was obviously the way to go at the time, and most Apple engineers were working on it, even the Apple II guys (][GS was the fruit of tha

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