Steve Jobs' resignation: Where now for Apple?

Steve Jobs

It was hardly a surprise. We have known for a long time that Steve Jobs was ill and rumours of his impending departure have repeatedly rocked Apple's share price over the last couple of years. But the news that he was bringing down the curtain on his illustrious career was still greeted with shock.

After all this is the man who transformed the business he co-founded from an ailing also-ran into the undisputed champion of the technology industry - so it is natural to ask what Apple will be without Steve Jobs.

First of all, it is important to recognise that the company has hardly been treading water in the six months since its CEO went on medical leave. Just look at the share price. It started the year hovering just above $300 and in recent weeks climbed briefly above $400, making Apple the world's most valuable company.

We have also seen outstanding financial results and the successful launch of the iPad 2, which still has no substantial rivals in the new category of tablet computers. Remember, all this has happened under the leadership of Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, who stepped into Steve Jobs' shoes for the second time back in January.

Now he has got the job on a permanent basis, and the buzz in Silicon Valley is that he is the right man at the right time. He has apparently been the absolute master of the supply chain - what sounds like a dull part of the Apple operation but is vital to the firm's success.

Tim Cook's career at Apple has been all about making sure that the process of manufacturing cutting-edge products and delivering them to consumers is done efficiently.

He is widely credited with delivering the outstanding margins on products like the iPhone and iPad which have in turn delivered the profits which make the business so wealthy.

It's not so clear that the new boss has his predecessor's instincts when it comes to how products should look and feel. But don't forget that the British design guru Jony Ive, who has masterminded the genesis of every new product since the iMac, is still on board. Together the two men could make a formidable team.

In the autumn, we can expect the launch of the iPhone 5, promising to extend Apple's dominance of the mobile phone industry, in terms of profits if not market share. Then another iPad will be coming along, probably early next year. So in the short term, do not expect the Apple ship to founder.

But something will be missing. Steve Jobs will not be there to unveil those new products - and "just one more thing" - in front of an adoring crowd of devotees. At the launch of the iPad 2, he said this about his company's philosophy:

"It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields the results that make our hearts sing."

Somehow, you cannot imagine those words coming from Tim Cook. And will the new leader be quite as bold in taking Apple into uncharted territory, quite as confident that he knows what consumers want better than they do?

No man is irreplaceable, and Apple is packed with brilliant engineers, designers and managers. The question now is whether it can continue to "think different" without the man who made that into a personal and professional credo.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Under Steve Jobs, Apple was an innovative and well-respected company, that made computers fun. There's no denying how the iPod, iPhone and iPad have changed things.

    But recently we've all seen the change in the firm: it is rapidly becoming a greedy, patent-troll of a company that would rather use litigation as opposed to innovation to sell their products.

    A rectangle? There's a patent for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Steve Jobs is not the Messiah. Apple is just a corporation. Ford manages without Henry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I would just like to wsh Mr steve Jobs all the very best and hope that he enjoys his now Free time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Thank you Mr. Jobs for everything you have done to make technology easier to use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Steve jobs turned Apple around, and has been a visionary. His product choices and input on all the successful products has been superb. I wish Steve all the best,and hope he can return to full health and lead a productive life, which is more important than leading a company.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Funny how we only have one negative comment about Steve and one "referred for further consideration". People in this country don't like successful people.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    >Steve Jobs is not the Messiah. Apple is just a corporation.

    He built that corporation from nothing. There are few things IT related not connected with Jobs, Apple or Apple users.

    For instance you're using the WWW invented by Tim Berners-Lee who used a NeXT computer to write the first WWW browser. NeXT was the company Steve Jobs founded when he left Apple in 1985.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Congratulations Steve. I am so happy for you. Have wonderful and long life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The skeptics out there would argue this is timed to remind people who brought you digital music players.

    Just as Blackberry announce their BBM music service.

    Ofcourse, the sad reallity is that Mr Jobs may not be with us much longer.
    Thank you and best wishes Steve

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Crikey, he's not dead yet. Steve's still going to be working for Apple as chairman, just not as chief exec. He'll still be on hand for the visionary stuff, just less of the day-to-day detail.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Also best wishes to Mr Cook...

    Nerves for that 7th Sept launch must be kicking in right about now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Where now for Apple? More lawsuits I would suspect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Cook may not have Jobs' ability to link design with technology (inspire engineers to extraordinary heights). But anointment to position always adds a bit of luster. Cook has proven he can manage growth. Despite Apple now sells more per quarter than it did per annum just a few years ago, it's still increasing revenue at an annual rate of more than 80%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    @Giles Jones

    I'm sorry, but that's just plain untrue. There are huge swathes of the IT world which have absolutely nothing to do with Apple or Steve Jobs. Just because they are so dominant in the consumer sector does not make them irreplaceable.

    I wish Steve the best, but rather hope this is an opportunity for Apple to return to innovation rather than building walled gardens and patent trolling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @8 The vast majority of innovations in IT have absolutely nothing to do with Apple, Apple users, or Steve Jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    How linked is "Jobs" & "Apple". Despite its extraordinary expansion in sales & profit, company is valued at about the same earnings multiple as S&P 500. Does this make sense to you? It makes sense only if it reflects worries about Jobs' health or, worse, a repeat of Apple troubles after Jobs left back in 1985. (After the news Jobs resigned as CEO, Apple fell some $20B of market value.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    It's odd, but without Jobs, investors will focus on just how good Apple is. Each of its stable of iPads, iPhones and Macs feeds the growth of the others. Apple's customer base seems growing & loyal. The smartphone & tablet markets have yet to hit their full stride. I hear new ground in TV is about to broken. It ought to become apparent quickly if Cook can step into Jobs' shoes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Giles Jones - Lots of authors have written books in Word but you wouldn't claim their success can be partly attributable to Bill Gates. Is Mr Stanley ultimately responsible for a well-laid carpet? I understand that Steve Jobs can be credited with a lot but I think you're overstating his role in the invention of the internet.


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