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Steve Jobs' resignation 'end of an era'

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 24, 2011
But product pipeline stocked for at least two, maybe three years, say analysts.

Steve Jobs' resignation Wednesday as the CEO of Apple will not disrupt the company's product plans in the short-term, but could dull its ability to dazzle consumers down the road, according to one analyst.

"Apple is fine, and will be," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "Apple knows what it's doing for the next big thing, maybe the next two next big things. They lose the showmanship of Jobs, but [the company's executives] have their marching orders."

Shortly after Jobs submitted his resignation, the Apple board of directors took his advice and named Tim Cook, formerly the chief operating officer, as the new CEO. Also on Wednesday, Jobs was named chairman of the board.

But to some long-time Apple observers, the departure of Jobs is a potential pitfall for the company.

"Apple will be a changed company without Jobs," said Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. "It will be a very different Apple."

Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, was forced out of the company in 1985, a year after the launch of the original Macintosh, by then-CEO John Scully and the Apple board. Jobs founded NeXT that same year.

He returned to an Apple in early 1997 when the company acquired NeXT, first as an advisor and then interim CEO. Jobs was named permanent CEO in 2000.

Jobs departure, the analysts agreed, will certainly affect how Apple markets itself and ultimately, how customers view the company.

"Longer term, Apple won't pull off the miracles it did during one of the great leadership careers in business," said Gottheil, citing the iPhone, which Jobs personally launched in 2007, and then the iPad in 2010.

Enderle was more blunt.

"Companies that lose an iconic leader, whether IBM when Thomas Watson Jr. stepped down, or Disney when Walt Disney was gone, or even Microsoft without Bill Gates, firms that went through that transition largely lost the magic," said Enderle.

He also compared Jobs to P.T. Barnum, and traced a line from Barnum to Disney to Jobs, saying each was "magical" in his own way. "Apple with Jobs was magical," Enderle said. "And [without those leaders] you can't do the magic. And Tim Cook isn't magical."

Jobs was best as Apple's creative spark, said Gottheil; Enderle saw it differently.

"It's how he marketed, how he announced products and how he put them in the public eye," said Enderle. "The iPhone wasn't the first smartphone. It was a success because of the way it was packaged and delivered."

 

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