The biggest story in the technology business is Apple after Steve Jobs.After Jobs came back in late 1997, Apple went on a 14 year comeback run the likes of which the business world has never seen.
The iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and then the iPad were all huge sellers that transformed Apple from a niche business into a company with the world’s richest market capitalisation.
For his brilliant salesmanship, attention to detail, and negotiating tactics – Jobs gets most of the credit.
But now he’s gone.
And that means there are some big questions about Apple’s future.
Who’s in charge, really?
Jobs chosen successor, Apple CEO Tim Cook, is not, according to Jobs himself, “a product guy.”
Meanwhile, Apple’s top “product guy,” is Jony Ive. Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that when it comes to Ive, “There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up.”
That’s good for Ive, but what happens when Tim Cook disagrees with him?
Who is actually in charge?
Can Apple keep its standards high without a product visionary at the top?
Can Apple hang on to, and motivate its talent without Jobs around?
Steve Jobs had an infamous, terrible temper. It could alienate employees, but it could also motivate them to do work they thought was impossible. It’s gone.
Will Apple employees keep up the pace of their work now that their task master is gone? A source close to some of them tell us there has already been a change.
After Jobs left, says this source, “all of a sudden there was a chance to have a break at your job. That was very welcome. A lot of the engineers, the ones I hang out with at least, they feel safer. They don’t have a constant anxiety that they’re going to lose their job every 5 seconds.”
Keeping engineers in a constant state of fear for their jobs is a big part of why Apple was able to roll out three category-creating, mega-hit consumer products over the past dozen years. Will Apple’s product quality slack now?
Can Apple maintain its airtight secrecy and security?
One reason Jobs was so good at selling was that his product demonstrations were, for the most part, grand reveals of closely held secrets. Apple secrecy has made for great theatre. Great theatre makes for an excellent brand.
Our source close to Apple employees says that with Jobs gone, some of them are starting to loosen up about what they’re working on.
“Everybody has kind of dropped their guard,” he says.
Will Apple’s product road map soon become public, ruining the theatre of its grand announcements?
Apple after Jobs is the biggest story in tech. To tell it, when need help from Apple insiders. They should reach us at [email protected] or 646 376 6014.