Monday, January 24, 2011

Post Steve Jobs' era in Apple

Steve Jobs’ third departure of Apple last week has again generated comments from all walks of life all over the world. On the financial side, request of further disclosure of his health status has been put aside with Apple’s great financial performance in last quarter. For the money folks, as long as they can make money, they don’t give a shit even if a donkey is the CEO. On the tech side, Apple’s competitors didn’t say much, coz all they care is still how they can compete with those i-Products. Their focus is still on quarter to quarter basis. For them, Apple is still Apple for now. For the consumers, they just care about what they can buy with their money. Apple is still a cool brand, and they are still looking for iPhone 4 and iPad if they’ve not bought one. To them, Steve whoever is just a famous rich old man who they see in the news few times a year to hold new products and tell people what’s new to buy. They don’t care much about that man as long as their friends tell them what to buy which happens to bear an Apple logo on it. Finally, for the fans, they just pray for Steve to get well soon and come back. Steve to them is still Moses, and they are still always crossing the Red Sea.

Well, for me, I’ve mixed thoughts of most of the above, except I’m not working in tech. My gut feeling is that Steve is gone from Apple forever. I really admire this guy and from the bottom of my heart, I really want to see him return to and lead Apple as before. But, realistically, that’s just wishful thinking that is not gonna happen. I see Steve’s status to Apple somewhat like Bill Gates to Microsoft now, but just not as lucky as him for being healthy. Well, with his announcement, Apple has instantly and unofficially entered the post-Steve era. It is not officially that case, but hey, we better assume that, just accept it and move on. Apple is gonna be fine in the short run. 2011’s schedule is set and done. Products like iPhone 5 and iPad 2 are already on pipeline. 2012’s plan and 2013’s strategy are probably taking shape. Just remember what Steve said in last year’s All Things Digital conference that the concept of iPad (released in 2010) in fact preceded iPhone (2007). Apple probably started working on iPhone in 2005 if not earlier. So, Apple does have plans/strategy set few years ahead of real product launch. Certainly, details would be changed in between under Steve’s direction. However, I think Apple would be fine in the next 3 years. The problem is more in the long run. We all heard of how Steve works and what values that he has shown as example in all these years. I’m sure they can be or have already been implanted in Apple’s culture. However, my concern of what Apple will miss is the ‘voice from Heaven’ to say ‘No’. As Steve has said that it is actually more difficult and important to make decision of exclusion than inclusion.

Apple may not be run by finance people or engineers like many other companies. Designers and product guys will still have strong say in product/service design. However, Steve is that one who listen to all they say and just hammered down a decision intuitively without explaining to everybody, and miraculously his decisions have been more hits than misses in last decade. We were told that Tim Cook will be a great CEO and Jonathan Ives will still be a great product designer. But, who is gonna make the ultimate decision? Will big decision in Apple be coming out of collective bargain? Or consensus from now on? If so, Apple will probably hit its peak within next few years and go downward from there as soon as Job’s previous key decisions have run their courses. Anyway, I will still buy i-products until something better is coming up, so does many consumers as long as Apple’ aura stay. We will see…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! All would be well written:)