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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.

While Enderle believes that Apple could show dramatic changes within 24 months -- conceivably before the already-stocked product pipeline is exhausted -- Gottheil was more optimistic about its chances without Jobs.

"Three years out, Apple is less likely to dazzle, to explode," said Gottheil. "There will be more duds. But the product lines begun during the Jobs years will be executed very well."

The analysts disputed whether collectively, the executive team at Apple equaled Jobs, or could stand in his stead. Gottheil thought they could, and with the exception of Jobs' performance on stage during product launches, would.

"The real question is whether the people at Apple can execute the strategies he's set, and use the lessons he's taught," said Gottheil, who believes they are up to the task.

"Of course, after this when a product launches with flaws, people will say, 'If Jobs were there, that wouldn't have happened.' Well, Jobs was there when Apple launched products with flaws," said Gottheil.

Enderle wasn't as sure.

"Operationally, Tim Cook is great," Enderle said. "But like [Steve] Ballmer [the CEO of Microsoft], who is incredible operationally, he's not the visionary.

Jobs' resignation may have been a surprise, but it wasn't totally unexpected.

A survivor of pancreatic cancer, Jobs took a leave of several months' duration in 2009 during which he had a liver transplant. In January 2011, he again stepped away for medical reasons.

In a letter he released today through Apple's public relations department, Jobs did not give an explicit reason for resigning, but intimated it was health related.

"If there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs said in the letter. "Unfortunately, that day has come."

Jobs has made few public appearances since January, among them the product launch of the iPad 2 in March and the keynote of Apple's annual developers conference in June. Also in June, he spoke before the Cupertino, Calif. city council to promote a new campus the company wants to build.

Gottheil and Enderle agreed that his resignation was related to his health.

"If he had the operational strength to run the company, he wouldn't have stepped down," said Enderle.

Both analysts bemoaned his departure.

"He was the CEO of the decade for an entire decade," said Enderle. "He was the iconic CEO that started off the century."

"It's the end of an era," said Gottheil.

 

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