Apples will Continue to Fall from Trees

It’s not so much that Steve Jobs has stepped down as the head of Apple that saddens me, it’s the reason why he is stepping down. Cancer invades so many people’s bodies and it’s a ruthless scourge. Regardless of which side of the technology war you are on, no one should be happy about the fate that has befallen Mr. Jobs. Go ahead and despise Apple, but keep Mr. Jobs on the good side of your thoughts. I had a brush with cancer a couple of years ago, but was one of the lucky ones. I am completely cancer free now and expect to remain that way for a very, very long time thank you.

With or without Steve, Apple will continue to grow and thrive. It’s not simply a computer manufacturer any longer. It has evolved well beyond the days when Macs were found in the occasional household. Apple has transformed the music industry and the personal computer industry, redefined the handset into a smartphone, remade retailing and introduced the tablet.

How did they do it? They broke with conventional wisdom and overcame the inertias that weigh down firms and industries. But the main ingredient of success in my opinion, is they made products that worked with people’s daily lives. Seamless integration and updates. No tribal language code. A near flawless user experience that are beautiful to look at. Not always plug and play, but pretty close. If you make products that people can use and fills a desire they have, you are more than halfway there. Apple actually went the full mile, closing the last 50% by making what they delivered emotional. They then amplified those products with superior positioning and marketing.

But most of all, they never gave up. No matter how dark the investor and pundit predictions were, or how large and dominant Microsoft became, they came in everyday and worked at it. Admirable.

Remember when no one wanted to copy Apple? Now everyone covets and races to copy them. Was this in large part the work of Super Steve? You bet. But there is no way he did this alone. It takes a village, and he has built a really big one.

Tim Cook, now the leader, did some amazing things. He got Apple’s on hand inventory down from months to days and is credited with being the supply chain wizard that allowed the firm to bring out so many products so often and quickly. Does he have the vision of a Jobs? No, no one does. But he does have a vision, and Steve is not walking out the door. He will be around and he will have more ideas and the wise folks in Cupertino will listen. His fingerprints will be on things for quite some time. It’s quite possible that not being CEO will give him even more time to be creative. That could actually accelerate Apple’s momentum. Perhaps he should have resigned sooner.

Don’t write off Apple or Mr. Jobs.

Will Apple lose its Muse?

Steve Jobs with the Macintosh 128k
Steve Jobs with the 128k

I’ve purchased seven Macintosh computers, three iPods, one iPod shuffle and an iPhone so far in my life. Each time I bought a new computer the older one was passed along to my son. None of them ever stopped working. Each one as well as the operating system was an improvement on the one before. We all know what the iPod and iTunes has done for the music industry, and the iPhone has redefined the portable handset.

Seems like almost everything Steve Jobs has touched since returning to Apple’s helm has turned to gold. Obviously it’s not him alone. He has no doubt assembled a talented team of executives and managers in Cupertino that have played critical roles in Apple’s success. But there is no denying that Mr. Jobs is the visionary. It’s his company, his strategy, his legacy. When Pixar was purchased by Disney, it wasn’t Disney execs that were asked to join Pixar’s board, it was Jobs who was asked to join Disney’s board.

There is a lot of talk out there right now about Mr. Job’s health, and whether or not he will return to Apple after the recently announced 5 month break. If he doesn’t return, Apple will go on and continue to be successful. Large corporations like governments are engineered for transition. It’s a necessary and inevitable aspect for longevity. But it definitely won’t be the same.

I sincerely hope Steve Jobs is able to weather this storm. I so much appreciate his vision and through his products share in it every day. But all that stuff is only software and hardware. That’s not what has meaning. It’s the mind, heart and soul of Steve Jobs. Get well soon! That’s all that matters.

Photo Credit: The New York Times