Jobs’ Departure Does Not Spell Doom for Apple

Blair Hanley Frank

Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, stepped down from his position last month. Normally, this would be the sort of thing that would lead to perhaps a bit of concern amongst investors, but nothing like what we’ve seen in the tech pundit space. Only for someone like Jobs could the resignation of his post as Apple’s CEO ultimately lead to a discussion of the company’s imminent demise.

For those who are unfamiliar with Apple’s history, here’s some quick background: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple in 1976. After an incredibly successful IPO, John Sculley, the former CEO of PepsiCo, was hired for the chief executive job at Apple. In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh, along with a legendary Super Bowl ad, which was met with a resounding success. In 1985, Jobs was forced out after Sculley discovered that Jobs was going to attempt to force him out. Jobs went on to found NeXT, while Apple fell from grace after several poor business decisions.

When Steve Jobs returned in 1997, Apple was at an all-time low. Over the next four years, Jobs worked on putting the company back together, going on to release the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. There was a point this year when Apple had more cash on hand than the United States government. I think it’s fair to say that they’ve done fairly well under Jobs’ renewed leadership.

But one of the curious things about Apple is that everyone seems convinced that Steve Jobs was the man behind everything. And thus, people have started making apocalyptic predictions about the company’s future. Most of them tend to follow the same pattern: when Jobs was at the helm, Apple did well, and when he wasn’t, Apple did poorly. In addition, they usually say, Jobs was the brains behind some of Apple’s most successful products. While I think those are valid concerns, I also think that, at the end of the day, Apple is pretty well set when it comes to talent.

In my years of following Apple tech news, it’s clear that their talent pool runs deep. Sure, the vision and ingenuity of Jobs helped propel Apple to its place in the market today. But it wasn’t just him doing the heavy lifting. In the time since Jobs’s return to the CEO’s office, he’s developed a team of folks committed to following the design philosophy he promoted. The team he leaves behind at Apple is a direct descendent of all the work he put in while he was there. I’m looking forward to what Apple has in store for the rest of us in the years to come, and while I’ll miss having Steve on stage for product unveilings and other such things, I think Apple is going to handily avoid disaster.