Apple without Steve Jobs: the risk of being ordinary
Talking Point: Can Apple continue to churn out iconic designs following Jobs's death?
TECHNOLOGY analysts and investors have been coming to terms with an Apple without Steve Jobs for almost a year now: he announced a medical leave of absence in January, and he officially handed over the mantle of CEO to Tim Cook in August. But with the separation now irreversible, following Jobs's death yesterday, many are questioning whether Apple can maintain its primacy in the tech world.
Apple risks becoming ordinary
"Jobs was an outstanding CEO and his successor Tim Cook faces a test," Lee Jun-hyuck, a fund manager at Dongbu Asset Management, tells Reuters. Will Apple will be able to lead the global market as it did before?
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at research consultancy Ovum, believes that in the short term Apple will do well, since it can simply roll out products which Jobs had a hand in. The iPhone is still the "gold standard" in the smartphone market.
"The question," says Dawson, "is whether it can continue to launch iconic and successful products without him... In the longer term, Apple risks becoming a more ordinary company without him."
What Apple will miss most
Nitin Bhat, telecom analyst at Frost & Sullivan, tells the BBC's Rebecca Marston: "Product development is not just about getting the technological bit right - it's also about the art of getting the look and feel and the timing of its launch right."
That cannot be taught, says Bhat, and it is the trait of Steve Jobs that Apple will miss the most.
Is Tim Cook up to the job?
At the launch two days ago of the iPhone 4S, "Cook passed muster with a slick presentation", observes Katherine Rushton in The Daily Telegraph. Unfortunately the product he was launching was less impressive.
"The iPhone 4S was so similar to the previous model that many analysts and technology experts felt Apple had left itself exposed to competition from new entrants to the competitive smartphone market."
So had the rot already set in two days before Jobs's death? As Geoffrey Fowler writes in The Wall Street Journal, Cook is known for helping Apple make wise operational and manufacturing choices but not for being a design guru.
But perhaps it doesn't matter. Fowler quotes Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, who believes "Cook doesn't need to be Steve Jobs - he needs to be the best Tim Cook he can be. Cook understands what he is good at and what he is not good at."
It's all in the share price
There are few better indicators of sentiment towards a company's prospects than its share price. The Guardian points out that Apple share price fell to a low of five per cent off its opening value in Frankfurt. The price was also expected to open lower in Wall Street when the Nasdaq opened later today.
But perhaps more interesting have been the movements in the share prices of Apple's far-eastern rivals today. Samsung's shares rose 3.9 per cent, LG Electronics 6.6 per cent and Sony 3.6 per cent. ·
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