Maggie Shiels

Apple's future without Steve Jobs

  • Maggie Shiels
  • 25 Jul 08, 06:38 GMT

The rather inelegant question of who will lead Apple when Steve Jobs "goes" is being bandied about virtually everywhere at the moment. Speculation about his health has prompted the rumour mill to go into overdrive with Apple seemingly doing a poor job to dampen down the feverish speculation.

Steve JobsIt all started last month when a gaunt Mr Jobs appeared at the company's developer conference in San Francisco. There was an almost audible gasp in the auditorium when he took to the stage in jeans that were practically hanging off his thin frame. But for a short while the issue faded as the crowd went nuts over his announcement about the new 3G iPhone.

Afterwards, spokespeople at Apple said Mr Jobs was recovering from a common bug. It was no secret that he had pancreatic cancer and four years ago underwent surgery which was hailed a success.

But the topic took centre stage again this week when analysts were involved in a conference call following the company's quarterly results. Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that Mr Jobs served as CEO "at the pleasure of Apple's board and has no plans to leave Apple".

Not sure if that line was borrowed from the West Wing script where the characters were constantly intoning how they "served at the pleasure of the president".

Arguably the matter might just have withered on the vine if Mr Oppenheimer had left the issue there, but he added that Mr Jobs' health was "a private matter".

Steve JobsThat got people Twittering like mad and now the big question being asked is just how much investors and analysts should know about a top exec's health. Especially, they are suggesting, one like Steve Jobs who is such a visionary for Apple and whose success seems to be closely bound together.

You might well think that this is a lot of brouhaha for nothing, but in the world of commerce this is a big deal. Reuters news agency reports that one investor was considering adding to his $2bn fund but was hestitant because of all the talk about the Apple guru's health.

There are now reports that the "common bug" that led to the weight loss was due to a "surgical procedure" Steve Jobs had earlier in the year. And also being highlighted and bandied about by unnamed sources and unnamed friends is the story that "in recent weeks, Mr Jobs has reassured several people that he is doing well and that four years after a successful operation to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, he is cancer-free".

You might wonder how Apple ended up handling this bit of public relations so badly? They are, after all, regarded as masters of the art when it comes to hyping their products and controlling the "message". But it does seem they have been wrong-footed.

The debate all just underlines the $64,000 question of who really will eventually follow in Steve Jobs' footsteps? And can or should any one person be allowed to be bigger than the company he or she runs?


  • Comment number 1.

    Bill Gates is out of a job, maybe he can take over?

  • Comment number 2.

    Gates may well have been the brains and thrust behind M$, but never to the extent that Jobs has dominated Apple. Jobs also resigned (after a little hissy fit) back in the 80's. After that he went on to found NEXT, which was an absolute turkey. In the meantime Bill went about his business (and lawsuits...), but never tried to hog the limelight the way Steve has a need to.

    Let's face it - ALL of Apple's current success has been built off the back of the iPod, a humble little inferior music player.

    Jobs has an ego the size of Florida and anyone who has read iCon will know the kind of a swell guy he is. Even if only 10% of it was true.

    The bottom line is that once he's gone Apple will die a slow painful death. Just the fact tha he was seen looking a little on the skinny (read: ill) side had Apple's stock fall by more than 10%.

    iCon indeed.

  • Comment number 3.

    It is simply impossible for the BBC to go 7 days with out a story about Apple. This is a new low. Repeating internet gossip does not constitute a story.

  • Comment number 4.

    Errr, this is a blog, not a story.

    You understand the difference between a blog and a story don't you?

  • Comment number 5.

    In response to what Deeptank said he could not be further from the mark in regards to Apple going down the pan when steve Jobas leaves. it simply will not happen. Apple are in a far better place now than when Steve last left and the belief that the iPod is a little inferior device has to be the biggest joke I have ever heard, just look at the way it transformed the way people listen to their music and the sheer volume of sales of the device since it launched. As soon as I saw this blog I knew the Apple haters would come out of the woodwork in regards to the coverage by the bbc. I have to admit that it can be a bit much on some occasions but I can see why this blog was done, although too many 'ifs' and 'whens' to constitute anything other than pure gossip.

  • Comment number 6.

    When Steve Jobs finally leaves Apple I am sure it will be left in the capable hands of the single most important man at Apple after Jobs, Jonathan Ive.

    This is the man who has designed the most stunning computer hardware in the last 20 years. If he has the vision to come up with the imac, ipod and iphone just think what he could do if he ran the company. Plus he is British what more could we want.

    Oh and to the guy who has a downer on the ipod what does he suggest is any better, I wouldn't even use a Zune as a door stop. Is all his frustration down to having to use Vista cos if it is he is not alone.

    At least Apple didn't leave Steve Ballmer in charge, now there is a guy who knows how to work a crowd.

  • Comment number 7.


    I would like to know how you would feel if people starting questioning your position in your job if for instance your appearance had chnaged for whatever reason.

    I am pretty sure you would feel your privacy had been invaded, that your professionalism was being questioned and that you were getting unfair and unjustified amounts of publicity you do not want.

    So why must you and BBC sink to the depths of the rest of the aweful British Media by doing this article? You and the BBC are much better than this. Technology news should relate to advances in technology, and nothing else.

    I remember coming on to the BBC and reading reports about Australian sceintists inventing transporters like in star trek and other stuff like that, its a massive shame that more and more tabloid quality reports are being produced.

    Can't you please just stick to what most people came to expect from the BBC's once fantastic Technology section?

  • Comment number 8.


    If your sarcastic comment relating to Ballmer is your true opinion then giving Ive the keys to Apple would be a huge mistake.

    Nobody knows Jonathan Ive, he is a very quiet and secretive man. Furthermore, no one has witnessed his business capabilities, so offering him up as a possible candidate seems quite odd.

    Jonathan Ive is a designer - an amazing designer - and simply that. He should be left to do what he does best, and not have the troubles of running the business.

    On a side note, I agree with Poster No. 7. Steve Jobs health is personal and should be left as that.

  • Comment number 9.

    I believe that the health rumor was utilized for the sole purpose of manipulating the stock price action over the expected drop in price after the quarterly forward guidance expected on Monday's conference. It was picked up as it's difficult for the analysts and bloggers to ignore. The original "rumor" was based only on Job's appearance at the iPhone 3G presentation in March so it was new news.

    Job's multiple talents will be difficult to replace. I expect that Ives will be in the running; but his expertise doesn't include market analysis or sales strategies, nor software. The Monday meetings of all Apple's department heads to keep everyone on the same page and aware of progress on future initiatives may be utilized to overcome the new CEO's limitations, with the best "visionary leader" taking Jobs' position.

  • Comment number 10.

    Steve Jobs champions products, the average CEO champions the numbers.

    Apple product designers share his vision. If history is anything to go by that won't cut any ice with a new CEO if they are parachuted in.

    Apple would have a very uncertain future without Jobs.

  • Comment number 11.

    I must admit this is pretty awful gutter reporting - or 'blogging' - from the BBC.

    Steve Jobs' health is his own business. Apple have publicly stated he had a bug recently and the medication he was on has caused weight loss. He is also a Pescatarian. He also works out. Just because America is becoming more and more obese, there are still many people living there who take their health seriously, Steve being one of them.

    His health is his business, and his company have already given the reason for his appearance (not that they had to), so what is the point of this blog? I simply cannot understand why this article was ever approved for the British Broadcasting Corporation Website.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Errr, this is a blog, not a story.

    You understand the difference between a blog and a story don't you?"

    Actually it's neither, it's just gossip.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well, is it that slow a news day in tech land that we are having the BBC of all people speculating on a man's health, and then the implications of that on the company he heads? Thats a bit much... Its his own business how healthy he is.

    And to the person who said NeXT was a turkey... It wasn't that big of a turkey at all. NeXTSTEP is the foundations of Mac OS X.

  • Comment number 14.

    >> Actually it's neither, it's just gossip.

    No, it merely posed the question that what would happen if SJ were to leave for whatever reason, and only mentions his health to place that in context, based on a sudden change to his appearance.

    PS. It is clearly a blog!

  • Comment number 15.

    Why are so may people anti-Apple?

    The facts are...

    Apple products just work without fuss and nonsense.

    Apple products continue to work without fuss and nonsense.

    You just know your Apple products are going to continue to work without fuss and nonsense for as long as you have them.

    There are no repeated "are you sure" messages, no "driver conflicts", no "I see you are writing a suicide note, let me help..." messages.

    Non-Apple users don't know how much of a joy Apple products are to use, so can't understand the passion the rest of us have for the simple, uncluttered, intuitive products Apple sell.

    For example; compare a nasty PC laptop with it's hundreds of switches, sliders, notches, plugs, stickers, adverts, panels, buttons, hatches, catches, latches, trapdoors, openings, sockets and fold-out feet to a sleek, unbroken, reassuringly solid Apple laptop. See what I mean?

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't hate apple, the iPod video is an excellent piece of innovation.

    I think that apple will suffer after Steve Jobs has gone. He does such a good job of getting people excited about products that are pretty but average.

    He seems to have this cult status that apple are keen to cash in on.

    And Mr Simpson, what on earth are you talking about?

    Sure macs are simple computers but also massively restricted compared to a pc. I would hat

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't hate apple, the iPod video is an excellent piece of innovation.

    I think that apple will suffer after Steve Jobs has gone. He does such a good job of getting people excited about products that are pretty but average.

    He seems to have this cult status that apple are keen to cash in on.

    And Mr Simpson, what on earth are you talking about?

    Sure macs are simple computers but also massively restricted compared to a pc. I would hate it if my pc didn't have the knobs and sliders, it is called accessibility.

  • Comment number 18.

    Macs are massively restricted? My little MacBook is currently running Windows apps seamlessly integrated into my Mac OS X, with Kubuntu running in parallel in another 'space'. I wish all computers were that massively restricted.

  • Comment number 19.

    The fact that run you Windows apps says everything you need to know about Mac's...


    "No, it merely posed the question that what would happen if SJ were to leave for whatever reason, and only mentions his health to place that in context, based on a sudden change to his appearance.

    PS. It is clearly a blog!"

    No it's a gossip column akin to those you'd find in The Daily Mail. Speculation about why someone may, or may not have lost weight? Blank out the words "Steve" and "Jobs" and replace them with "Katie" and "Price".

  • Comment number 20.

    No, it says everything you need to know about where I work. Still shackled to applications running on Windows.

  • Comment number 21.

    Jeez people! - What's with all this windows v mac stuff?

    A computer is a 'tool' - that's just it, If I need a saw to saw then I use one, if i need a drill I use a drill. - I don't really care if it's a Bosch or a Black and Decker - as long as it does what I expect it to do.

    I personally think that the different platforms (Mac/Windows/Linux) all have things to offer and without healthy competition the level of innovation in the technology market would be a lot less.

    Sure MS copied functions of Mac OSX for Vista, but then Apple copied stuff from Xerox for their original OS! They are all alike in that regard.

    Let's just celebrate the fact that we have a choice of which platform and software we all use (I use both Windows and Mac btw).

  • Comment number 22.

    Regarding comment no. 21 by Chris Barnham, I agree wholeheartedly. As a former Windows user who decamped to Apple Mac, however, I wouldn't want to reply upon Windows unless it was the only 'tool' available, but I'd use it. I prefer Apple products and find them great to use, a delight to look at, and their reliability and longevity is astounding.

    My son uses a couple of PCs - he mostly plays games - and wishes only that Apple did more to accommodate gamers. He says he'd happily switch to a Mac because of their superior operating system, design and build quality. He has also backtracked from Vista to the older XP, calling it the lesser of two evils, but there we are.

    As for Steve Jobs, well, yes, he's an extraordinary guy, but irreplaceable?

  • Comment number 23.

    Its apple, and the true meaning lies within itself. Even if SJ is not there it shall remain as strong and natural as it is today. May be it might get a bit ripe but not pale or stale.

  • Comment number 24.

    The, rather sarcastic, question was posed, "You understand the difference between a blog and a story don't you?".

    I find that very interesting, as I thought I did: Articles published in newspapers and broadcast over TV and radio are "stories", but often belong in a "column" or on the editorial page; purportedly "personal opinion/diaries" published on the web are "blogs, but get linked to by the BBC's web pages.

    Umm.... alright, I give up. Either there isn't any difference, or the BBC is trying to pretend that columnists aren't publishing on their site by hiding behind the euphemism, "blog".

  • Comment number 25.

    No company depends on one person and everyone is replacable. This isn't a tech story it is a business story. Have you any idea how damaging it is to propergate rumours of this nature? I suspect that it doesn't meet the standards required by the BBC for business reporting.

  • Comment number 26.

    Deeptank, I hate to see misinformation spread. Jobs did not resign, he was booted out and betrayed. When Apple realised it was really they who needed him, they brought him back on board.

  • Comment number 27.

    So, if the iPod is really so inferior, then how come Apple have sold over 11 Million in the last 3 months?

    Also Apple have sold over 2 million iMacs in that same 3 months period.

    Whilst I agree that Jonathon Ive would be the perfect candidate for Steve's Job, I also believe he would possibly be best to stay where he is as that is what he does do best. BUT, "Imagine the possibilities", and especially as he certainly does "Think Different"!!! ;-)

  • Comment number 28.

    This was simply muck stirring to manipulate the stock price on the day Apple reported an excellent financial quarter exceeding analyst predictions and the company's guidance; the price was then taken down 10% by the muck stirrers. This has become such a major problem in the USA that the SEC has suddenly decided to protect the very institutions that do it, because their very existence is threatened by rumour mongering and naked shorting (google it). Because Apple is a growth stock with a huge market cap and high P/E, this is phenomenally profitable.

    Steve Jobs currently appears fit, but incredibly thin. The BBC and everyone else has decided to call this "gaunt", but his appearance and behaviour do not match this term. Watch him on that day for yourself: He's lively and healthy looking, but spectacularly thin. (That's supposed to let you live to 130, by the way!)

    Steve Job's health is a private matter, and the company is not entitled to say anything about it in public, so long as there is no prospect of his health affecting his work for Apple. So when the company says, on the record, "Steve's health is a private matter", it means that he's fit for work. Oppenheimer (CFO) who made this statement can go to prison if he knows there is something significant wrong with Steve Jobs and makes the statement that his health is a private matter.

    But the muck stirrers continued to pretend there was something there, and the company was somehow dissembling. So in the end Steve Jobs phoned the chief slime bucket at New York Times, in a personal capacity, and disclosed off the record his private medical history details. Stuff has been happening that's made him thin, but it's not threatening and it's being dealt with, apparently.

    I'm a shareholder and I'm heartily sick of these sleazy journalists with their bogus smears "on shareholders' behalf". And by the way, Apple will be just fine without Steve Jobs. Buildings don't fall down just because their architect isn't around any more, and neither will Apple.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Post 27:

    'So, if the iPod is really so inferior, then how come Apple have sold over 11 Million in the last 3 months?'

    Surely that statement means that suggesting OS X is better than Windows is flawed because Microsoft sells more copies of that.

  • Comment number 30.

    deeptank corrections:

    Jobs did not quit Apple; he was kicked out by Sculley (the sugar-water salesman Jobs had hired to sell computers)

    Next was not a turkey; along with Apple, it was crushed by Microsoft, who smothered the whole industry for twenty years, and still pays billions of dollars in compensation every year for the illegal damage it has caused. NEXT was technically advanced; (Tim Berners-Lee used it to create the worldwide web!) So much so that when Apple needed to save itself, it bought Next, which was in effect a reverse takeover, with Next people occupying key senior roles in the new Apple; Apple remains Next-dominated today, and OS X is basically the Next OS.

    Apple has indeed used the iPod to bootstrap itself back into the game. But you'll notice that your "turkey" Next OS has become the OS of the iPod touch and the iPhone, as well as the Mac.

    If you are one of the 99.9% who simply don't understand what Steve Jobs and Apple are doing, he seems like an egomaniacal shit. But if you understand it, it simply looks like ruthless determination not to let anything stop the change from happening. Why do you think Apple ran this ad when Jobs returned?

    It's Apple's manifesto under Steve Jobs. Keep watching.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ ancientdream

    Well it depends on what deeptank mean't. The NeXT company was a failure, yet the innovation of NeXTSTEP was not, and needed the might of Apple to save it.

    NeXTSTEP saved Apple. But without Apple NeXTSTEP would have been nothing.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have to say to the people calling NeXTSTEP a 'turkey' and 'failure' have no place commenting on a Tech blog.

    Dear me people, do some research! NeXTSTEP is INCREDIBLE!!! I mean, Doom was created on a NeXT machine, the original shoot-em-up! HTML 1.0 was created on a NeXTSTEP, Mathematica was created on a NeXTSTEP. Quote from wiki:

    "The system was among the first general-purpose user interfaces to handle publishing color standards, transparency, sophisticated sound and music processing (through a Motorola 56000 DSP), advanced graphics primitives, internationalization, and modern typography in a consistent manner across all applications."

    Maybe these critics of NeXT should get back to playing on their Fisher-Price Windows machines, and leave the real computing to the big boys.

    A turkey indeed. There's a sucker born every minute!

  • Comment number 33.

    The original shoot 'em up was actually Wolfenstein 3D, not Doom.

    NeXTStep, whilst an extremely important step in computing, was a commercial failure.

    As for PCs being 'Fisher Price' toys, give it a rest, eh?

  • Comment number 34.

    Ah, the joy of comments is watching the back and forth between Apple haters and Windows haters, which seem to exist in equal measure.

    Both are tools to get a job done. Some prefer one, some prefer the other. Deal with it.

    And as for the iPod ... whilst I applaud its original innovation (although it certainly was not the first digital music player) I have a smaller, neater device that cost about 25% of the price of an iPod, does everything I could possibly want in a music player and lasts forever on a single charge.

    A very old friend of mine camped out and bought an iPhone on day of release, simply because it was an Apple iPhone, and whilst it is very good, it was three times the price of my Windows PDAphone and has about half the functionality.

    The potential problem Apple has, for me, is that beyond their (admittedly) amazing design they carry a huge cost premium just because of the Apple name and logo.

    No thanks.

  • Comment number 35.

    Regarding entry no. 33, I believe the original Doom was published in shareware form before Wolfenstein. I'm not so sure Wolfenstein didn't use the Doom engine.

    Now the original version of Marathon is another matter, of course, and Halo was written on and for the Mac.


  • Comment number 36.

    Nope, Wolfie was released in 1992, Doom was released in 1993. You're right that Wolfie doesn't use the Doom engine - Carmack worked on that whilst ID got on with Spear of Destiny - but that's besides the point: Wolfie was still the first 'real' FPS.

    As for Marathon, a great game for the Mac and probably why MS bought Bungie. I'd also point out that Halo on the Mac was intended to be an RTS and that the FPS for the Xbox bears little relation to that work in progress although it was indeed subsequently ported to PCs and Macs.

  • Comment number 37.

    A question for all...

    Why is Doom, Xbox etc being talked about? They have nothing to do with Apple and Steve Jobs.

  • Comment number 38.

    Apple without steve jobs will be different and take a long time to come to term with. Apple will survive but it will be a blow to the company. All the apple fans will cry because Jobs is like god to them.

    But i dont know why people are arguing over the os, ipod and iphone. Microsoft will never be beaten by Apple. FACT!! Vista is rubbish but since vista has been launched it has sold more copies than Leopard. Even if apple have sold 3 million macs in 3 months Windows machines are way ahead in sales. And mac do have virsus but not as much as windows. Thats because macs only have 4% of the market share!! so virsus developers find it pointless!! And the ipod is a nice design and well ahead of other mp3 players but the new sony music players destroy the ipod. I have one and i dont have to use software!! i just drag and drop the music folders into the folder on the music player. And itunes sucks!! The Iphone is horrible!!! and HTC actually destroys them. With Microsoft machines atleast you can upgrade everything for example; GRAPHICS CARD, PROCESSOR, SOUND CARD ETC. On a mac your only aloud to upgrade ram and hard disk. WAW SPOIL ME APPLE.

    And apple would be more appealing if the didnt run there business like a dictatorship. Controlling everything you do.

    And btw if you think i am one big Microsoft fan you are wrong Microsoft has its bad points aswell, but i have owned a mac used it for years and ill never go down that road again.


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