Steve Jobs Death: Apple's Future Without Its Visionary
Steve Jobs was company's chief innovator.
Oct. 6, 2011 — -- Steve Jobs was such a symbol of Apple, after masterminding the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac and iTunes, that the writer Walter Isaacson planned for a time to call his authorized biography "iSteve."
Now that Steve Jobs has died, Apple will not immediately change, say people who knew him and the company. But where will it go in coming years without him? Jobs was its co-founder with his childhood friend, Steve Wozniak, and spent most of his adult life as its chief visionary.
In August, Jobs, his health failing, resigned as CEO and handed off to his long-time lieutenant, Tim Cook. Analysts said the company was in good hands; Cook had been running the company on a day-to-day basis for years already, leaving Jobs free to look at big picture issues and new innovations.
PHOTOS: Steve Jobs Through The Years
"The board has been preparing for this eventuality," said Michael Gartenberg, research director of Gartner IT analysts, after Jobs stepped down as CEO. "Mr. Cook has shown remarkable leadership in the two times that he has taken the reins when Jobs was out on medical leave. And there is no reason to think he simply won't continue that pattern of excellence."
But on Tuesday, the day before Jobs' passing was announced, Cook presided over the announcement of the new iPhone 4S -- and it did not quite wow the tech world the way Apple announcements under Jobs usually did.
The 4S was packed with powerful new features -- intelligent voice recognition, a powerful processor and the ability to make calls in almost any country on the planet. But Apple stock actually went down; people had been expecting a shiny new iPhone 5, not a sensible upgrade to the existing iPhone 4.
Whatever Apple has in the works now, analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, Inc., has said the company typically plans three to five years forward, so the near-term future is set.
After that, though, it gets more complicated.
"Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is innovation," said Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, in August. "You can teach people how to be operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how to do that, but God creates innovation."
And Jobs, was, above all, an innovator. He did not invent the personal computer or the cell phone, the tablet or the personal music player -- but he took each, honed it, made it accesible, practical and very, very cool.
"The magic of Steve was that while others simply accepted the status quo, he saw the true potential in everything he touched and never compromised on that vision," said George Lucas, the filmmaker and a friend of Jobs.
Bill Werde, editorial director of The Billboard, which covers the music industry that Jobs so profoundly changed with the iPod, said Jobs combined substance and style into one.
"Other companies sold digital music before Apple," Werde said. "Other companies made digital music available on computers and digital phones and used it in commercials. Apple's brilliance -- and I don't think anyone doubts that this was Steve Jobs' brilliance -- was that Apple made it exciting and simple and effortless and fun.
"Before Steve Jobs, digital music was math class. After, it was recess."
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