interesting article from the Independent: thought id pass this on....
i edited it but if you want to read the complete article here's the link: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-st...s-1202195.html
He shaped the company in his own image, turning it into the world's most influential consumer brand. But now rumours of ill-health and uncertainty over the succession have sent Apple's stock tumbling.
Imagine fans showing up for next month's annual all-things-Apple shindig in San Francisco, the Macworld Expo, and being handed a programme, out of which flutters a paper insert with the message: "Steve Jobs is indisposed today. The role of 'Demi-God' will be played by Philip Schiller." Bummer....The moment when Jobs is meant to take to the stage, in jeans and black turtleneck shirt, to unveil one more "One More Thing..." won't happen.
Well, there was a time earlier this year when all the world was fretting that Jobs, 53, who is a survivor of pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed in 2003, might be very unwell again. People worried especially after his appearance at another Apple event in July when he looked thin to the point of gaunt. The chatter subsided slightly after another appearance in September saw him looking a little more chipper. But now we have this. What are we to make of it exactly? Is he, in fact, as gravely ill as we had all feared?
Others argue, meanwhile, that there is something unethical about the endless speculation surrounding Jobs's state of health by members of the media. He is a human being with children (who presumably have access to all that is being written) and is entitled to his privacy. And it is true that the repeated, "Is-he-dying? Is-he-not-dying?", headlines are being written on the basis of no concrete evidence whatsoever. He may be thin, for all we know, because he has discovered the joys of a cottage-cheese diet or because post-cancer he is on a strict dietary regimen imposed on him by his doctors. Thin is good.
But Jobs is no ordinary citizen. Nor is he any ordinary CEO. When he returned to Apple in 1997, the campus at Cupertino was a place of almost suffocating gloom. The Apple computing platform commanded roughly 3 per cent of the market, a total washout alongside the hegemony of the PC, developed by Microsoft in Seattle. The effect of Jobs's return has been nothing short of miraculous. Thanks to a combination of aesthetic cleverness – you remember how groovy those iMacs with the sort of blue-translucent back casings were just 10 years ago? – and amazing innovations that led to the "i" revolution in Cupertino (iPod, iTunes and now the iPhone), he has led the company to even greater heights. The effect, however, has been to make Apple without Jobs hard to imagine.
Then there is the small matter of the succession after Jobs disappears, whether because of sickness or indeed any other reason. This is a tricky one, of course, precisely because what will Apple be without Jobs at the helm? There are few major companies in the world that are so intimately tied to the boss, both in public perception and in their day-to-day operations. Others are perhaps the Virgin Group (Richard Branson), or Cuba Inc (the Castros). (We will not mention Madoff Investment Securities and Bernard Madoff just now.) Henry Blodget, the former banker and now Silicon Valley analyst, has said that Jobs is "arguably Apple's single most valuable asset".
We are told that succession plans are being aired inside Apple, and there have been hints of this precisely because of the increased spotlight that has been shone at recent trade shows on other top-level executives at the company, including Schiller and also Timothy Cook, Jobs's chief operating officer. (There has even been an effort by some of them to mimic his black-top, jeans-bottom wardrobe when appearing in public.) But Wall Street clearly thinks it's high time that the succession debate was taken public.
Confirming that he had downgraded Apple stock from "Outperform" to "Perform", Reiner of Oppenheimer left no doubt that he is one of those growing worried again about Jobs. The decision to keep him away from Macworld "has underscored the greatest risk to Apple's long-term success – its dependence on Jobs' health and its apparent lack of a succession plan." He added that it was "past time" for Apple to give investors some clarity about how it envisages the company post-Jobs.
Gene Munster, an Apple analyst at the Piper Jaffray investment firm, thinks Apple could have avoided this week's stock grief by letting Jobs speak next month and cautions against those who read into this flap that Jobs is again gravely unwell. That said, Munster does suggest that, at the very least, we may be starting to see the first phases of whatever succession plans Apple does have being implemented. "While we do not believe that this change provides any indication regarding Steve Jobs's health," he said, "we do believe that it is a sign that we are in the early stages of changing roles in Apple's management structure."
In other words, the era of Steve Jobs at Apple may indeed be nearing an end. A reporter on CNBC yesterday cited sources in Cupertino who insisted that the decision to keep him away from Macworld was "more about politics than his pancreas". So, perhaps, if he begins to retreat from his daily duties then it will be because he has other things he wants to do, beyond simply changing the daily lives of so many of us with those clever little iThingamajigs that we are about to buy for Christmas.
Apple's core: Who will follow Steve Jobs?
Schiller has 17 years of marketing management experience at Apple and is current senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, reporting directly to Steve Jobs. He is also a member of Apple's executive team and is credited by the company with "delivering breakthrough products" such as iMac, MacBook, iPod, iPhone and Mac OS X. While he may not have the technical expertise of other potential candidates, and certainly enjoys a less fearsome reputation than Jobs, Schiller has long been his CEO's right-hand man at most Apple public events. Given that a significant part of Apple's success is built on its presentation and public appeal, perhaps he would add a marketing dimension that other key figures at Apple don't have access to. When news broke this week that Jobs would not be the keynote speaker at the Macworld event next January, it was announced that Schiller would deliver the opening address in his place.
Timothy D Cook
Reporting directly to Steve Jobs, Cook is Apple's chief operating officer. Having previously worked for Compaq, as vice president of corporate materials, and for IBM as director of North American fulfilment, his rock-solid technology credentials place him firmly in the running for the top job. At Apple, he is responsible for the company's sales and operations globally, including managing the company's supply chain. Described by 'Fortune' magazine as being "as steady and low-key as Jobs is temperamental", 47-year-old Cook is a fitness fanatic and cycling enthusiast. Although the question of whether he has the charisma to replace his widely revered boss has been raised, he was given him a nod of approval when, in 2004, Jobs put Cook in charge of the company while he recovered from surgery for pancreatic cancer.
With a focus on the public face of the business, Ron Johnson's profile has rocketed since he joined Apple from the US retail company Target in 2000. Although he has on occasion disagreed with the Jobs on retail strategy – the Apple stores' "Genius Bars" were one such clash – Johnson is widely regarded as one of few candidates to possess the personality and charisma necessary to inherit the top job. Currently serving as the company's senior vice president of retail operations, Johnson has presided over a period of record growth for Apple outlets, with annual sales topping $1bn. In a retail environment that is destined to get tougher in the coming years, and with Apple sales having stagnated, dropping 1 per cent last month, now could be the moment for the company to focus more closely on making sure Apple customers keep coming back for more in this difficult period. Ron Johnson could be the man to tackle the problem head-on.
The 41-year-old from Chingford, east London, is senior vice president of industrial design at Apple. Internationally renowned as the principal designer of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and the PowerBook G4, he was awarded a CBE by the Queen in 2006. To many, after Jobs, Ive best embodies the spirit of Apple and is a favourite potential successor – recently 49 per cent of voters in an online poll said they trusted Ive to run Apple. However, Ive's pathway to Apple's throne isn't quite so straightforward: will one of the world's most influential designers want to give up such a creative role to take on the infinitely divergent tasks of a CEO? Further, Ive is famously private, and may lack the charisma and presentational skills expected of an Apple CEO.
Could Apple bring in a relative outsider in an attempt to diffuse any internecine conflicts among the major players in the company's top echelons? Perhaps Eric E Schmidt, current CEO of Google and already a member of the board of directors at Apple, would be an ideal, if surprising choice. Schmidt led development of Sun Microsystems' Java technology and ran the software outfit Novell before becoming CEO of Google in 2001, where he has overseen the introduction of new Google products such as Gmail, Google Talk and the Android phone-operating system. Schmidt, with an estimated net worth of $5.9bn, was recruited by Google as the straight man to rein in the "mad scientist" impulses of the company's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. His ability to do so could be useful to Apple to keep Jobs acolytes in check, while the Apple CEO role might entice Schmidt as it could afford him greater creative freedom than being Page and Brin's third wheel at Google. With Apple, Google and Microsoft limbering up for a battle over the future of cloud computing, Schmidt's technical background, coupled with his track record in taking on the latter company in the search-engine market, would be a major boon.
Forstall cut his teeth at NeXT, the software company Jobs founded following his departure from Apple in 1985. The software he worked on there was the precursor to Apple's OSX, and the buy-out of NeXT by Apple in 1997 saw Forstall join the company, in charge of OSX releases, alongside Jobs, who was then appointed Apple CEO. This year Forstall was appointed to senior vice president, after having managed the development of software for the iPhone. His dedication to his previous role bordered on obsessive, as he admitted to 'Time' in 2007: "I actually have a photographer's loupe that I use to make sure every pixel is right," he told the magazine. "We will argue over literally a single pixel." After his series of impressive performances at recent Apple worldwide developers' conferences, some observers are tipping Forstall as a worthy successor to Jobs.