Jobs Steps Down – Strong Hopes For Apple

Just last week, I pondered what could happen when Steve Jobs retires and how that could affect Apple and its constant ability to innovate.  Funny how timing is as Jobs just announced exactly a week after my post that he is stepping down.

The letter follows:

“To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve”

The stock market has reacted quickly and we can only hope that all it is doing is providing the opportunity for some to get some Apple stock at a slightly reduced price.  The reality is that we will now see how intrinsically Innovation and user-friendly experiences are part of Apple’s DNA. It seems like they had a succession plan in place, but only time will tell if they actually follow through on that.

Jobs is certainly one of a kind and it would be challenging for anyone to be able to lead in the same manner as he did.  Guy Kawasaki – one of the earliest pieces of the Apple team and previously its Chief Evangelist – characterized Jobs this morning on NPR as the most demanding boss he ever had.  He also called out the fact that he is one of the strongest presenter of products – ever.  That element is made somewhat easier when the product is so good, but we’ve seen a vast amount of people with great products and no ability to convey that to an audience and whip them into a frenzy like Jobs.  Jobs was able to do that in spades – from the Macintosh, to the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad.  Yes, there were misses – like the Newton – but Jobs was able to keep them moving forward, even when battling debilitating illnesses.

I don’t have any stock in Apple.  I am not just an Apple guy as I personally work on both PCs and Macs. I have multiple iPods and an iPad, but my mobile phone is an Android.  The truth is that all of technology – and perhaps media consumption – is better off with an Apple that is running on all cylinders.  Their success in innovative products and practices sets a bar that has allowed others to strive for and draft off of.

There is so much chatter online, and in traditional media about this.  He is not leaving the company – only stepping down as CEO. The buzz is testament to the fact that no other CEO stepping down in recent history has brought up as much concern for the future of a company or industry – as no other person has done so much the particular way Jobs has. While people focus on the thought that Apple is DOA without Jobs at the helm, it benefits us all to hope that plans were set in place for the company to continue to grow successfully.

After all, the sign of a good business is not just producing a solid product, but clearly communicating its benefits and setting up the company’s structure so that the business can continue productively long after the founders are gone.

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