Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ resignation has sparked off a not-unexpected flurry of analysis and commentary from across the technology industry.
In a letter to Apple’s board of directors and employees, Jobs suggested he could “no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO.” He asked the board to activate a prearranged succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO-a familiar role for the latter, considering he’s stepped in as interim chief whenever Jobs’ longstanding health issues drove him to take medical leave.
Combined with Google’s acquisition of Motorola and Hewlett-Packard’s decision to radically realign its business, Jobs’ decision to relinquish the CEO reins makes this one of the most roller-coaster months for the tech industry in recent memory. But analysts seem to think Apple will weather this current situation.
“Apple’s product development road map stretches into multiple years ahead and has been shaped both by Jobs and by the organization he built,” Forrester analyst JP Gownder wrote in an Aug. 24 corporate blog posting. “Jobs’ departure won’t affect Apple’s product portfolio, quality or competitiveness for a long time-if ever.”
He also suggested that Apple’s combined talent outweighs the possible impact of its leader’s permanent departure: “While Steve Jobs will go down in eventual history as an outstanding innovator, leader and world-changer, Apple is actually much more than its leader alone.”
Other analysts echoed that point.
“Apple has been run by a team of very accomplished visionaries that includes Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Jonathan Ive, Scott Forestal, Ron Johnson and a host of others,” Carl Howe, an analyst with the Yankee Group, wrote in an Aug. 25 blog posting. “Steve was [the] public face of the company, but we shouldn’t think that he was the only one making all the decisions.”
Indeed, Apple is widely expected to release its next-generation iPhone (widely dubbed the “iPhone 5” by the media) in either September or October, following that with the next iPad sometime in early 2012. In the short term, that one-two punch of product releases could convince skittish investors that Apple indeed remains on track. The company retains considerable market share in the smartphone and tablet segments.
“Mr. Cook is … universally regarded as a strong leader and supply chain expert, and we believe he is well suited to lead Apple to significant growth over the next few years,” T. Michael Walkley, analyst with Canaccord Genuity, wrote in a co-authored research note Aug. 24. “Further, we believe Apple has a deep and talented executive team in the areas of supply chain management, hardware/software design, and product marketing.”
Cook himself apparently issued a note to Apple employees, assuring them of business as usual in the days ahead.
“I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change,” the newly minted CEO wrote in an email to Apple employees, quickly reprinted on Apple-centric blogs such as 9to5Mac. “Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that-it is in our DNA.”
His email also suggested that Jobs will continue in a more advisory capacity: “We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.”