Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Steve Jobs to take sick leave

(By Richard Holway) A few minutes ago it was announced that Steve Jobs is stepping down as Apple CEO for six months as his health problems prove rather more complex and serious than we were led to believe just a few weeks back. The announcement was made after the US markets closed and after-hours trading has been suspended.

This is indeed bad news. Of course, all of our best wishes are with Jobs and his family. But Jobs IS Apple and we care deeply for a company which has made more of a positive effect of our (well my) life than any other technology company. Reading the news reports, some analysts are making light of it – likening it to Bill Gates stepping down as CEO of Microsoft. They are so, so wrong. Firstly, Gates never had that 'eye for style' that Jobs has. (A comparison between the Zune and the iPod would rather prove that case!). Secondly, Ballmer had been lined up for years as Gates replacement. I give Microsoft full marks for its succession planning. They are an object lesson in how to do it.

No such succession planning is in place at Apple. Sure there are some good people at the next level. Jonathan Ive and Tim Cook are indeed admirable in their own ways – but they "are no Steve Jobs".

I fear for Apple without Jobs. I fear for a more boring life devoid of those wondrous products. The sheer joy of opening the Apple box and realising this is a company that has put more effort into the design of the plug than most other companies put into their whole product. Just holding an iPod Touch, without even switching it on, makes you feel that things are kinda right. Then you turn it on and it just dazzles. This is not just any product – this is something designed by someone who clearly loved it. Someone who thought the way you did to such an extent that it does everything the way you intuitively expect it to be done.

As the ad might go– "this is not just any product, this is an Apple product".

Steve. Please get well again so you can continue to enrich our lives.

Footnote - Apple shares were down around 10% when after-hours trading resumed.

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