A new report from the IHS research group (http://www.ihs.com) asks, "Can Apple stay on top without Jobs?" Even without reading the report, I can tell you the answer to that question: yes.
But back to the report. Here's part of what iHS has to say:
"In life, Steve Jobs’ vision gave Apple Inc. a commanding lead over the competition. But after his death, it will be Jobs’ skills as a manager -- specifically whether he built an organization that can carry on his legacy without him -- that will determine whether Apple can maintain its advantage. However, no matter how successfully Jobs seeded Apple with his genius, his spark may prove irreplaceable over the long term ... [Apple's] stunning accomplishments have entirely been due to Jobs and his laser-like focus, along with his willingness to buck convention and his knack for reinventing existing products and business models. But perhaps most of all, it was Jobs’ uncanny ability to look beyond the nuts and bolts of products, services and technologies -- and see the revolutionary impact they could have on people’s behavior and on society as a whole."
This is true, and no person can replace Jobs. But a team of people can. And Apple has that team in place, namely a cadre of Jobs' hand-picked lieutenants, including o execute with Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive, Eddy Cue, Scott Forstall, Phil Schiller, Peter Oppenheimer, Bob Mansfield, to name a few.
And as Jason Hiner, writing for "TechRepublic" (http://macte.ch/wiLdn), notes, there are three reasons why Apple will succeed after Jobs:
° Apple is in great shape in the smartphone and tablet markets, both are which are going to see explosive growth over the next 3-5 years.
° Jobs has put the right people in key positions to keep Apple moving and innovating in the ways he preferred.
° As much as Jobs is legendary outside of Apple, it’s even more so inside the company. The myth and legend of Jobs is going to sustain the company for a while. The principles he used in building products, organizing the company, marketing, hiring, and more are much better known inside the company, and they will use that for years to guide decision-making — as long as the current leadership remains in place and keeps everyone united around carrying forward Jobs’s vision.
"While there are clearly very smart people at Apple, I question whether anyone can envision and realize social and behavioral change the way that Jobs did," Bob Braverman, senior director, communications and consumer electronics at IHS, says. “Without Jobs at the helm, Apple’s massive margins have got to wane at some point."
Certainly those "massive margins" will go at some point. No company can maintain the roll that Apple has been on for 10 years indefinitely. And some pundits think that when the Jobs' influence and long-term plans begin to run their course in 3-5 years, Apple's time as the leader in tech innovation is over.
I beg to differ. Check back with me in, say, 10 years and see who's right.
-- Dennis Sellers