According to Apple’s (AAPL) board at the company’s annual meeting this week, “nothing has changed” with regards to CEO Steve Jobs’ situation, meaning Jobs is still scheduled to come back from medical leave at the end of June. But what if he doesn’t? Someone will need to run Apple.
Could that someone be Peter Chernin, Rupert Murdoch’s long-time no. 2 at News Corp. (NWS), who announced his resignation this week?
At a Barry Diller-hosted brunch last weekend, one “rampant rumour” was that “Chernin might take over Apple, since Steve Jobs is so apparently ill, on leave and his future there is uncertain,” Sharon Waxman writes for The Daily Beast. She adds: “Getting Chernin for Apple would kind of seem like a stroke of genius. But one knowledgeable person tells me this rumour is false.”
We don’t think it’s likely, either.
Peter Chernin was great at News Corp., but Apple is a completely different company. Sure, Apple does have a large media business. But that’s secondary to Apple’s consumer electronics and computer businesses. If the iTunes movie store has a problem, Apple will be fine. If the iPhone goes down the toilet, Apple is in trouble.
Moreover, if Steve Jobs were to leave, we think Apple is likely to do whatever it could to maintain the culture, leadership, and staffing that Steve has cultivated since he returned. Which suggests a respected insider — COO Tim Cook, or maybe iPhone software genius Scott Forstall — could be appointed Apple’s next CEO, with a creative-type — perhaps Jonathan Ive — promoted to a Product God-like title.