The tech and consumer worlds are mourning the resignation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who stepped down as CEO this week, but will become chairman of the company. Opinions are split on what this means for Apple.
"On a human level, it's sad because you can't imagine Steve Jobs walking away for any other reason but health," said Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis. "From a corporate level, I don't expect it to have much of an impact over the next few years -- literally years. Apple is especially well positioned in terms of its platform and ecosystems."
Apple's Strong Bench
Although shareholders have dreaded this day for years and some tech-industry analysts feel Apple is losing its mojo with Jobs going out the door, Greengart isn't too worried about the company in the short term. And he has several reasons.
"Apple has taken a fairly long and patient approach, starting with the iPod and iTunes and then iPhone then App Store and then iPad. Each of these things building on itself, and even then seeding some of that back into the Mac," Greengart said. "So Apple is exceptionally well positioned, and you would expect that their product pipeline is fairly robust with continued innovation on top of these platforms."
Clearly, Jobs is the mastermind behind Apple's turnaround and subsequent smashing success. Nevertheless, Greengart is giving some credit where he feels credit is due: To the other members of the executive staff.
"While Steve Jobs is no doubt responsible for some of this, he doesn't work alone," Greengart said. "Using cash to lock up supply of key components in advance and then using that to drive costs down and profits up -- that's all Tim Cook. He's the operations guy. He's the one that's masterminded all of that."
Following the Jobs Tradition
Cook is now CEO. Greengart noted that Apple has raised up key executives to head important divisions like iPhone, iPod and software -- a seasoned bench of executives that would be C-level at other tech companies. As long as these execs follow the Steve Jobs' tradition, which is most likely, Greengart said, Apple has nothing to worry about for at least a few years.
"Any company that thinks it will be easier to compete with Apple without Jobs at the helm is going to be in for a rough fourth quarter when the iPhone 5 and potentially other new products launch," Greengart said. "Longer-term, we'll never know what would have been different."
Most would agree that Jobs has been stellar in anticipating market shifts and positioning Apple to lead them over the last decade. It started with the iPod and has continued strong.
"When we inevitably in the next five, 10, 15 or 25 years see another major industry shift -- call it the post-post PC era, if you will -- it's entirely possible that Apple will navigate those waters exceptionally well," Greengart said. "It's also possible that they won't. That's where, even if they do make decisions that Steve Jobs himself would have made, people will say that if Steve Jobs were running the company, things would have turned out differently."