Apple shares fall as Jobs quits

 
Steve Jobs

It was hardly a surprise. We have known for a long time that Steve Jobs was ill and rumours of his impending departure have repeatedly rocked Apple's share price over the last couple of years. But the news that he was bringing down the curtain on his illustrious career was still greeted with shock.

After all this is the man who transformed the business he co-founded from an ailing also-ran into the undisputed champion of the technology industry - so it is natural to ask what Apple will be without Steve Jobs.

First of all, it is important to recognise that the company has hardly been treading water in the six months since its CEO went on medical leave. Just look at the share price. It started the year hovering just above $300 and in recent weeks climbed briefly above $400, making Apple the world's most valuable company.

We have also seen outstanding financial results and the successful launch of the iPad 2, which still has no substantial rivals in the new category of tablet computers. Remember, all this has happened under the leadership of Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, who stepped into Steve Jobs' shoes for the second time back in January.

Now he has got the job on a permanent basis, and the buzz in Silicon Valley is that he is the right man at the right time. He has apparently been the absolute master of the supply chain - what sounds like a dull part of the Apple operation but is vital to the firm's success.

Tim Cook's career at Apple has been all about making sure that the process of manufacturing cutting-edge products and delivering them to consumers is done efficiently.

Actor and technophile Stephen Fry talks about Steve Jobs - first broadcast August 2011

He is widely credited with delivering the outstanding margins on products like the iPhone and iPad which have in turn delivered the profits which make the business so wealthy.

It's not so clear that the new boss has his predecessor's instincts when it comes to how products should look and feel. But don't forget that the British design guru Jony Ive, who has masterminded the genesis of every new product since the iMac, is still on board. Together the two men could make a formidable team.

In the autumn, we can expect the launch of the iPhone 5, promising to extend Apple's dominance of the mobile phone industry, in terms of profits if not market share. Then another iPad will be coming along, probably early next year. So in the short term, do not expect the Apple ship to founder.

But something will be missing. Steve Jobs will not be there to unveil those new products - and "just one more thing" - in front of an adoring crowd of devotees. At the launch of the iPad 2, he said this about his company's philosophy:

"It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields the results that make our hearts sing."

Somehow, you cannot imagine those words coming from Tim Cook. And will the new leader be quite as bold in taking Apple into uncharted territory, quite as confident that he knows what consumers want better than they do?

No man is irreplaceable, and Apple is packed with brilliant engineers, designers and managers. The question now is whether it can continue to "think different" without the man who made that into a personal and professional credo.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    Kit Green wrote:

    "Steve Jobs is not the Messiah. Apple is just a corporation. Ford manages without Henry."

    While I think Apple will be just fine with the really talented people left to run the company there is a big difference between managing to run and excelling in the market, something Ford does not do.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    Steve wrote:

    "But recently we've all seen the change in the firm: it is rapidly becoming a greedy, patent-troll of a company that would rather use litigation as opposed to innovation to sell their products. A rectangle? There's a patent for that."

    No, only people that make bizarre statements about "a rectangle" see it
    Your way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    Steve will still be around as Chairman so he will still have strategic input. I don't think he's ready to fully surrender the visionary reigns just yet. I think the real test will be to see if Cook is allowed to be his own man, and what will happen if he crosses swords with Jobs over product strategy. That said, presumably Jobs hired Cook and feels that his baby is safe in his hands.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 67.

    If you watched the still picture of Stephen Fry while listening to the soundtrack of him eulogising about Steve Jobs you might have thought...

    What?

    Googling "Stephen on Steve" uncovers a not-too-rough transcript. It's fascinating what happens when an un-techie interviewee (Fry) is selected by an un-techie news organisation (Beeb) to talk about an un-techie (Jobs).

    Emotion... lurve... rela...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    And then...

    "...the iPad 2, which still has no substantial rivals in the new category of tablet computers".

    What utter tosh. Sorry, is my Xoom not a substantial rival? The Galaxy Tab? There are rivals, but the BBC doesn't want to acknowledge them, and printing what is an opinion at best is not public service broadcasting.

    Product placement or sales force?

    All the same I wish Mr Jobs the best.

 

Comments 5 of 70

 

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