Apple faces a Jobless future

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, iconic leader and one of the great creative innovators of his era, leaves the company he founded and built into a global superstar

The departure of Steve Jobs as leader of Apple on medical grounds has been anticipated in and outside Apple for some time. We can anticipate even more news coverage of the iconic figure whose design genius was behind a steam of products since the time of the first Apple personal computer, launched as the Apple 2

Quirky but much loved

This was quirky but much but much loved. Even the earliest versions were revolutionary in appearance and functioning. They suggested a future for personal computing that could not be imagined in the market leading IBM product and its host of imitators trying to be as compatible as a possible at lower cost.

The Apple Mac

Then the Apple Mac came along. This was even more obviously evidence of new species emerging. They are coming from a common ancestor, but retaining a genetic capacity to visualize as well as to digitalise.

IBM and clones under threat

Apple products become a serious threat to the generic sounding PC (i.e. IBM’s products and its clones). Compatibility was more an aspiration than a reality for each set of products, and even today there are enough differences to create famous entry barriers to switching from one of the two IT tribes.

Design excellence

Apple developed a brand image of innovation and design excellence. The company succeeded in grabbing a share of the emerging mobile phone market with its i-phone and then the tablet market with the i-pad. Apple stores became cathedrals for worshippers.

And each of the innovative leaps in the company was utterly associated with the design genius of Steve Jobs. Stock levels were seen to shift according to reports on his deteriorating health.

Symbolic leadership

This is one of the clearest example of symbolic leadership to be found in modern times. Steve Jobs was Apple. The closest parallel I can think of is that of Walt Disney. Incidentally, you can find fascinating comparisons of the two companies in the book Disney Wars.

All is not gloom and doom

There are naturally signs of bereavement at present at Apple. But all is not gloom and doom. Apple has had a strong internal candidate waiting to step up. The evidence is that the company has faced the realities of succession. Tim Cook is already highly regarded internally for his operational and organizational talents. He was appointed in what seemed like one last symbolic act after his strong endorsement by Steve Jobs in his letter of resignation. We will learn much more of Mr Cook in the coming months. Will Apple now enter a post-charismatic era in its public image?

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3 Responses to Apple faces a Jobless future

  1. samer al salhi says:

    truly a symbolic leadership case, a symbolic leadership is symbolic for him self if he is the only influential person in the org. in case of Apple , the whole company is symbolic , Job was very smart not only in his abnormal designs but by moving Apple from a conventional org. to a dynamic one which by it llef is a iconic for other organisations and its products is iconic for other products

    then i think if the new leadership is able to keep this spirit and keeping the company , its products, its culture and its image to customers symbolic by keep innovating , if that happen the company will stay symbolic and will keep going up.

  2. The dilemma is whether the symbolism (as I think you mean it) can be retained, if the leadership seeks to move away from the ‘cult of the personality’ of Steve Jobs.

    Jobs did have 230 patents to his name ….

    best wishes

  3. samer al salhi says:

    yes prof ,

    no body can deny Job’s contribution to Apple by his innovations or leadership , Job is not the only brain in Apple and no one company depends on one person for its success although his leadership is abnormal , if the new leadership success in moving the innovation from his personality to each member then kept on innovating the products and the way the business is done then the company will move from a successful position into a more successful one

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