Steve Jobs resignation: Expect commercial fireworks from Apple

Now then — that day has arrived. Steve Jobs has resigned from Apple. It is only right to point out that the chap has made a phenomenal difference to the planet. I wish him every success, in particular with his health.

Let’s get the full resignation text documented for posterity:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.


In terms of business though, I think it’s fair to say that the Jobs Effect has given Apple a phenomenal position in the marketplace.

Tim Cook — although I’m sure he’s a capable leader — simply cannot match the Jobs aura. That aura has been built up over decades and was business critical in ensuring that (for example) Apple managed to get through the iPhone 4 antenna debacle by simply giving folk free cases.

The ‘reality distortion effect’ that has been seriously annoying Apple’s competitors for the last few years is no more.

I don’t think Apple will recover.

I’m confident that the ‘it just works’ mentality will remain. Apple is not Steve Jobs. He had a whole host of smart executives supporting him. I think Apple can, internally, retain much of the ‘no, no, no’ Jobsian mentality of obsessing over new products and enhancements. I’m sure they’ve all learned. I’m sure it’s all bred into them now.


The key point is this: The market — and the hardcore fans — believes Jobs. They buy Jobs. The industry analysts, much of them unabashed Apple ‘fanbois’ loved to enjoy the hype. They loved fanning the hype by turning it into reality through a curious and easily identifiable self-fulfilling prophecy. Speak to any reasonably capable wireless analyst about touch screens and don’t be surprised to find them spouting Steve Jobs filler about the importance of being able to reconfigure a screen keyboard dynamically.

I don’t think the “because Steve says so” explanation will extend to other executives.

But with just under $80 billion in cash going into two highly profitable quarters, Apple is in a nice position. Timing is good for a succession announcement.

Apple without Steve Jobs is still a hugely powerful, dominant player, particularly in the mobile marketplace. I won’t be surprised to start seeing some more familiar commercial moves from the company across the next few quarters.

I feel that Steve ran the company according to his objectives. Nobody complained. No one. Except the competitors. With Apple now more or less the most valuable company on the planet with more money on-hand than the US Government, quite a few folk have been wondering about their next steps. The company’s mobile strategy has been carefully stage managed. At no point did the company over extend itself, much to the frustration of many followers. Apple always kept the market wanting more. Literally. There’s still huge latent demand for iPhones in nearly every market. Apple could have dropped the price to hoover up the market two years ago, such was demand.

I think it’s fair to say that the company’s strategy over the last few years with iPhone has been brilliantly engineered to ensure maximum profits and maximum market attention. It’s served them well.

Investors haven’t reacted at all well to Android’s domination. Oh, it’s not at all reflected in the share price. But speak to folk privately and they’ll willingly admit no small amount of frustration at 50%+ marketshare going to Android when Apple could have taken that.

To do that, though, Apple would needed to have messed around with the device price. (i.e. the Nano strategy). They weren’t doing that though. No. The Jobs strategy mandated against this over the past few years.

The market wore it.

Steve said so.

I don’t think we’ll see this any more.

I think over the next few months and quarters, we’ll start to see Apple treated a lot more like every other company. I think they’ll get challenged.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this does to the marketplace.

I think we’ll see a lot more aggressive posturing from Apple. Tim will naturally react differently to Steve, even though they no doubt share the same basic beliefs and impulses.

Will Steve still be on hand to nod ever so slightly at concepts he doesn’t like? Will he still weigh in on the big strategic questions? I’m sure he’ll have a say. But Tim will need to assert his own management style and objectives.

Most importantly, Tim will have to deal with mounting demands from shareholders to do something with the money in the bank. Either give it back to the shareholders or do something with it. Stop keeping it in the bank.

Today is the turning point. It’s the moment that things ‘officially’ changed.

We’ll see the actual results in about, what, 2-3 quarters time?

I’m looking forward to some commercial fireworks. I’m looking forward to some aggressive movements from Apple. I think there will be some missteps — and without the Jobs distortion field, it’s going to be rather exciting to see how the company reacts. I think there will also be some phenomenally stimulating moves from the company too.

For all the talk of the ‘reality distortion’ viewpoint, it’s important to recognise that Apple houses a tower of talent, the output of which may well now be directed in (more innovative?) ways that we least expected.

Here’s a question for you: Has Steve Jobs held back Apple?

Revolutionary talk.

But run with me.

It’s quite possible that Jobs has held Apple back.

Put that one in your pipe and smoke it, eh?

Has Jobs held back Apple’s relentless march across the mobile world? 2 years ago, would Apple have bought Verizon? Would the company have released the iPhone 3G as the ‘Nano’ and flooded the planet with 500,000 iPhone activations a day?

With 80 billion (and, probably 100 billion dollars by the end of the year) in free cash, Apple is now in a position to seriously change the course of the mobile industry. Not just by willing it. Not just by nice design. But through economics.

If you thought an £89 HP Touchpad was revolutionary, what do you say to a £99 iPad? Or an Apple subscription plan? Sign up for £100 a month for 2 years and receive a top of the range iMac, MacBook Air, iPad 2 and iPhone 4. With price-plan included. Renew afar 2 years and you’ll get a new set of kit. Spend £200 a month and you qualify for the Mac Pro desktop and 2x 27″ monitors. Something like this could really, really change things.

I wonder.

As quite a few people have been pointing out on Twitter, this has been a rather crazy time in the mobile marketplace. In the last two weeks, Google bought Motorola. HP (sort of) dumped WebOS and sparked a rush for it’s £89 Touchpads, thus completely killing a whole generation of Android tablet wannabes. And Jobs resigned.

Love it.

Bring on the fireworks Apple. Let’s see what you’ve got?

And rest well, Steve and I wish you good health. Thank you for a thrilling ride.

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