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Apple innovation to continue despite Jobs' departure

Former Apple CEO may be unique, but his team will maintain company’s pre-eminence, say analysts

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Steve Jobs' resignation as CEO of Apple will not stem the stream of innovative new products and is unlikely to damage the world’s most successful IT company.

That is the initial reaction from a slew on analysts to the overnight decision by Jobs to relinquish the helm of Apple because of ongoing health problems.

With chief operating officer Tom Cook set to take up the reins and with Jobs still on the board, veteran UK analyst and Apple fan Richard Holway noted, “Tim Cook has been a very able COO and I suspect he’ll do well as CEO – he’s had enough practice.

“Jonathan Ive is still there designing those wondrous products. I suspect the product announcements are set for the next year or more. On top of that, Jobs has had plenty of time to plan for his exit. There is much evidence that he has built a strong team ‘in his image’.”

Gartner research director Michael Gartenberg noted, “While this marks the end of an era for Apple, it's important to remember the there's more to Apple than any one person, even Steve Jobs. Continuing as chairman Mr. Jobs will continue to leave his mark on both the company and products even as he transfers the reigns to Mr Cook.”

Forrester product strategy analyst JP Gownder was equally confident. “While famously a CEO, Steve Jobs is also, it should be known, a product strategist par excellence.  He's clearly been involved, in a deep way, in the development of Apple's product ideas, product designs, business models, go-to-market strategies, and responses to competition.”

Nevertheless, Gownder insisted in a blog post, “Apple is actually much more than its leader alone.”
Apple's product development roadmap stretches years ahead, he added noting “it has been shaped both by Jobs and by the organisation he built.  Jobs' departure won't affect Apple's product portfolio, quality, or competitiveness for a long time -- if ever.”

However, fellow Forrester analyst Josh Benoff, in a post titled The meaning of Steve, reflected on the unique combination of qualities that made Jobs so successful.

He highlighted a combination of strategic vision, timing, control of the supply chain, product differentiation, design and audacity.

On strategy, Bernoff highlighted Jobs' ability to see the whole game. “The content companies, the carriers, the hardware manufacturers, the engineers, the patents. Jobs saw not just what was possible, but what industries would be affected and how to bully, cajole, sweet-talk, and persuade them into working with him.”

On timing, Bernoff noted that Jobs, was often not the first but he understood which technologies were ready for mass market take off. “There could have been no iPhone without the habits created by iPods and Blackberry, no Mac without Apple and IBM PCs embraced by those who came before.”

While much of the reaction to Jobs departure focussed on his obsession with design and the audacity with which he launched new products, Forrester’s Bernoff also highlighted the basic business discipline that underpinned Jobs’ success - supply chain and differentiation.

“Apple doesn't make flash memory, microprocessors, touch screens, or, for the most part, Web sites. It just puts them all together. Profit margin comes from assembling commodities in a fantastic, must-have package,” he noted.


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