Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Eventual Exit: 10 Potential Outcomes

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-01-18 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Steve Jobs is having a health issue that forced him to leave his company for the time being. But if he's gone for good, what could happen with Apple?

Steve Jobs has decided to take a medical leave of absence for an indefinite period of time. The Apple CEO didn't say what's wrong, and would only say that COO Tim Cook will be handling day-to-day operations in his absence. What that means for the future of Apple at this point is anyone's guess. For now, Jobs is still CEO, and he seems loath to give that up anytime soon.

But eventually, that will change. One way or another, Jobs will be forced to step down and hand his company over to another executive who might have a totally different view on how Apple should be run. The result could either benefit Apple or be disastrous for the company. At this point, there's simply no telling what Apple's future will look like without Jobs at the helm.

But that doesn't mean one can't speculate. Below you will find several potential outcomes of Jobs' eventual departure from Apple. Some might be beneficial, while others might be disastrous. But in either case, when Jobs is gone, things will likely change at Apple.

1. The stock price plummets

There is a feeling on Wall Street that Jobs is the only visionary behind Apple's operation. He is the single person who can successfully manage that company through the increasingly competitive technology landscape. When Jobs finally steps down and allows someone else to run the company, it's quite possible that Apple's stock price will plummet. Investors will need to find out if Jobs' replacement is right for the job or not. And they will hold onto their cash until they can make that determination.

2. Apple loses its vision

Apple's vision is currently one of innovation and quality. It's a vision that Jobs himself cultivated. And it's something that few other companies in the United States have been able to match. With that in mind, it's entirely possible that Apple's new CEO will lose that technological vision Jobs cultivated for so long. Jobs knows exactly what he wants from Apple and has never lost his focus. The next CEO will need to have that same level of decisiveness or Apple will lose its current, profitable vision.

3. The corporate culture changes

If Jobs has done anything at Apple, it's create a corporate culture that employees can get behind. The company's vision is marked by innovative design and service at a premium price. And it has proved to help Apple in numerous ways. But whenever a new CEO takes the reins at a company, the person brings a new corporate culture with him or her. And in the process, things change dramatically at the company. The same could be true at Apple.

4. The CEO's revolving door?

Taking the place of Jobs as CEO of Apple, one of the most recognizable and respected companies in the world, is no simple task. Few people have the ability to run Apple the way Jobs has. It's quite possible that the company's board will hire several new CEOs before it can find a single person who can run Apple the way it should be run. Simply put, there might just be a revolving door at Apple before the company can find another suitable leader.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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