By Greg Mills
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is entitled to privacy, and yet the press can't let the man alone and pass on purely speculative stories assuming we are going to lose Steve. Last time he took a leave of absence to have a liver transplant and recover, some ass of an editor accidentally ran an obituary.
How charming. MSBNC is running a story regarding what they consider the 10 most likely candidates to take over as CEO of Apple. While I know it is big news due to the incredible growth at Apple and the stock situation, such speculation might be interesting but completely irrelevant for now.
One of the common themes in Apple succession stories is the notion that someone could fill Jobs' shoes if we lose him. That is a flawed notion. It is rare that a CEO has the amount of power Jobs wields at Apple. Normally, a CEO allows the staff to do a lot Steve does. At a minimum, the wisdom and polices Steve has laid down will guide Apple for some time to come. We did see Apple flounder under the sugar water guy Sculley and just about go down for the count under Amelio. I think the bench is deep enough now that the notion of bringing an outsider in to run Apple is remote.
While the elements of success at Apple may be managed differently after Steve retires, that doesn't mean it can't work just about as well. Steve put great men into key positions and they are now seasoned and firmly in control of their functions. Tim Cook has proven Apple can thrive under his management. Jonathan Ive is unlikely to have a creative breakdown on design excellence. Phil Schiller is able to manage worldwide sales.
Jobs is a creative workaholic and needs time to deal with his health. Keep in mind the product development work at Apple goes on and it only takes a few moments for Steve to hold a prototype in his hands and say, "too thick." Remember last time he took time off he was working on the iPad. I say leave the man alone and stop picking on every salacious aspect of the Apple saga.
From what I hear, Apple has a "roadmap" for the next 10 years, that no doubt, runs right over weak industries Apple will retool in its own image. The digital download business is just ramping up and there will be innovation there that will be that one focus area. Then the incremental improvements in the current product line will also be interesting to watch. Look for 3D screens on about all Apple sells. I expect that technology to mature. I hope and pray that Jobs will be able to bounce back and overcome his health issues.
The announced but unpriced RIM PlayBook continues to disappoint before it is even launched. Details that are leaked about Apple product are normally about cool, value-added elements. RIM is leaking downer after downer features and continues to maintain the PlayBook will exceed iPad in function.
WIth a smaller screen, no GPS, the ability to only connect to business servers when tethered to a BlackBerry, a tiny app store, a battery hog chip set, a reportedly higher price and coming out just about the same time the iPad 2 is due to hit the market, PlayBook is dead right out of the box.
To access the business server one must tether with a BlackBerry? This means only those already using a BlackBerry are likely to buy a PlayBook. That severely limits the market for PlayBook and leaves the market wide open for the iPad 2. Imagine if the iPad required an iPhone to operate over the web. Talk about narrowing the market for a slate computer. The RIM PlayBook is a laughable failure and will go down as the RIM version of Microsoft's KIN.
I was amused to read an article touting the killer application to be launched with PlayBook that amounts to a separate mailbox for email for business and for personal use. Called BlackBerry Balance, this wonder software creates a partition of sorts to keep secret business information in a secure place on BlackBerry while allowing users to also have a partition for personal use. Is that the best they can do at RIM? That is the big news? I bet the software guys at Apple are shaking in their boots.
That's Greg's Bite for today
(Greg Mills is currently a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's web sites at http://www.gregmills.info . He can be emailed at gregmills.mac.)