Today is the end of an era. Steve Jobs, so long the centre of everything Apple does, has finally stepped down as CEO of the world’s biggest company. His legacy, in the form of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, is assured. But what’s next for Apple? And will his resignation hurt the company he’s built into the planet’s premier tech brand?
Here’s five reasons why Cupertino shouldn’t be concerned and why Jobs is right to say that Apple’s "brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it”.
1 This is nothing new
Jobs has been on medical leave since January this year, leaving much of the planning and day-to-day operation of Apple to COO Tim Cook, the man taking his place. Yes, he’s had input and sign-off on new kit, but nowhere near the level of deep involvement seen around the launch of the original iPhone in 2007.
What’s more, Jobs took six months out in 2009, having had a liver transplant. Apple’s execs are used to not having their talisman around every day. Therefore, making big decisions without the man who helped resurrect the company can be done and has been done before.
2 He’s still got a say
While debate about Job’s immediate health will rage in the coming days, his position as chairman of the board means he still holds sway. Maybe not as much as he will have had as CEO in the past, but still enough to influence decisions.
His power will not simply die away. The board will doubtless look to him for direction, even if his role now is more one of figurehead than leader. Don’t be surprised to see Jobs make a brief appearance at the iPhone 5 launch next month.
3 It’s the Cult of Apple, not Jobs
Apple fans are just that: fans of Apple. The company is no longer a niche love of those who want to look and do different. It’s arguably the most mainstream brand in the world, while still carrying a huge amount of prestige. The Cult of Jobs has long gone, swept up by the popularity of the iPhone and iPad. People are fans of Apple’s products, not Steve Jobs.
4 iOS is all about developers
iOS’s success is predicated on the success of apps and those who develop them. Yes, they’re created on a platform that Jobs had a major say in developing, but that’s done now. It’s all about refining the product rather than creating it.
Developers now run iOS, despite Apple’s strict controls. It’s developers and people buying apps who have helped make iOS the rampant success it is today. That won’t change now Jobs has left his position as CEO.
5 Apple is more than one man
Yes, Steve Jobs might have had the final say on gadgets, but Apple’s experienced team means that the iPhone and iPad are unlikely to fall out of fashion because of one man’s resignation. Jony Ive’s classic designs have helped Apple blast competitors out of the water.
The iPhone is popular because it’s so easy to use and so great to look at. The same goes for the iPad. Not just that, the way products are marketed by the exec team creates a huge buzz around new kit.
This isn’t just Jobs doing this work and never was. The days of him being centre stage were long gone anyway, as a cast of cohorts shared the stage at keynotes and launch events. Cook and Phil Schiller have each hosted keynotes in Jobs’ absence: the iPhone 3GS didn’t tank just because Steve Jobs wasn’t there to unveil it.