Apple without Steve Jobs: The journey so far

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Steve Jobs was a visionary leader and there is no denying the fact that Apple went from strength to strength under his leadership. It was only natural to have speculation about how will Apple manage without him.

A similar trend was also seen when Jack Welch was giving up the top position at GE. However, with Apple things were a bit different as Steve Jobs could not be around to be a mentor and make sure the company strives further on the path that he had shown.

On his part, Steve Jobs planned his exit from the company quite well. He chose an able successor in the form of Tim Cook, and to a certain extent, had a chance to groom Cook for the top job. So an year after Steve's death, and even longer since Cook took charge of affairs, we asked industry analysts to share their thoughts on Apple post-Jobs.

Sharing his thoughts on this topic, Jeff Kagan, Telecom Analyst, says, "I think Apple would have been just as successful, no more and no less. The question is would Steve Jobs vision have helped Apple advance into other areas? More so than we have seen in the past year. And would the new iPhone 5 have had the same level of problems? Moving away from Google maps was a big problem. Changing power adapters was a big problem."

"The way Steve Jobs typically handled such problems is ignore them publicly. Remember the problem with losing a call when holding the iPhone wrong from last year? No solution. No apology. Yet the company continued to grow. With Steve Jobs in charge I believe Apple was able to simple ignore occasional problems."

Robert Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group, differs saying Steve Jobs would have never paid out a dividend or spent money on philanthropic activities. He elaborates, "Products would be coming out sooner and there would be fewer problems. Many of the folks who have quietly left would likely still be there, Apple wouldn't be paying dividends nor would it be spending millions on philanthropic activities. The ads spends would more effective and focused on driving sales."

John Strand CEO of Strand Consulting agrees, "On the communications side, Tim Cook has not done (so) well. Under Steve Jobs, Apple was untouchable and the press did not write critically about Apple, there is much more negative journalism and Cook does not have the same magic that Steve Jobs had."

Strand also thinks that Apple has not shown enough innovation under Tim's leadership. He says, "With the launch of iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 Apple is not addressing new segments. Sales growth has come through wider distribution (more countries and more operators) and by old customers upgrading to a new model. I think that Apple needs new products that will target more segments - right now the iPhone looks like Volvo 240 or Motorola Razr."

There is no doubt that Apple has changed in the last one year and some of these changes are triggered by the changing market dynamics. Given that, perhaps even Steve Jobs would have changed his approach. Kagan on his part feels, "Steve Jobs did his best to make sure the new devices always wowed the marketplace. Part of that was the technology, and part of that was just the Steve Jobs Effect. Now that Steve Jobs is gone, we see a new and different Apple emerging. Part of this has to do with a maturing company as well. Remember everyone was impressed with the first few iPhones, but today the smart phone market is getting busier with competitors like Android. Going forward I think Apple will still be a special company, but as the years pass it will be less special without Steve Jobs."

While Enderle feels that under Tim Cook Apple is becoming more like the other technology companies and losing its competitive edge. "It is drifting to be more similar to other technology firms with less marketing competence more funds spent on activities that make the company appear friendlier but detract from cash reserves, and Apple has focused on maximising current product spend but significantly slowed on bringing out new products timely. As a result financial performance and stock performance have improved but likely tactically, the firm isn't as aggressive in assuring its long term future," comments Enderle.

Finally, would Apple would have launched the same kind of products if Steve Jobs was still in charge? Stand sums it up, "I do not know if Steve Jobs would have done it is very different on products, the products we see now are still products planned under Steve Jobs. One thing is certain and that is that Tim Cook does not have the same karma that Steve Jobs had and part of the Apple magic disappeared with Steve Jobs."

Also read:
10 inspirational Steve Jobs quotes
Remembering Steve Jobs: "You've got to find what you love"



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