I'm afraid the Apple faithful are playing a little fast and loose with logic on this one. Let me see if we have this straight...
1) Steve Jobs was absolutely and almost singularly responsible for Apple's meteoric rise over the last 14 years. His vision, his taste, his standards, his business acumen, all of it - has driven Apple past competitor after competitor to become the most valuable company in the world. [By the way, I agree.]
2) Steve Jobs is also completely unnecessary for Apple's continued success. [Hmmmm]
I think I can agree with Gruber's wisdom in choosing to prognosticate no further than a month. What made Apple remarkable is going away today. From here on out Apple will be as likely as the next company to blunder in the marketplace by playing it safe. You will not see Tim Cook do anything half as insane/brilliant as Jobs was capable of.
He built and trained a system that, even with Steve still running it, is obviously capable of making good decisions without him. He may have been the primary motivator for the development of the iPad and iPhone, but he didn't create OpenCL, libdispatch, CoreAnimation, and Automatic Reference Counting. He didn't invent the unibody construction process or Gorilla Glass or LightPeak or multi-touch, and he's obviously not the only person at Apple who can recognize their value and figure out how to use them to make a better product. If that were the case, he would have been a huge bottleneck and Apple would never be able to ship more than one product a year.
You're confusing leading by example with doing it all yourself.
Since they've had some time to prepare for this transition I would expect that Jobs put much focus and intensity into thinking about how you move forward without him. That shift in focus may be a large part of why he stepped down last year. If he's been working on a new product then it's not a new iPad or Mac but instead it's how you build Apple to last another 20 or 30 years.
I just don't think we understand people that well yet, let alone that we are able to copy them so effectively. Is the analogy of astronomy to Newton a good one? No. Business isn't anywhere close to being a science like Astronomy. Other people can observe and repeatedly make tests that further our understanding of space. Can you do that to a person, especially after they are gone? Nope.
Sure, Apple will exist for a long while to come, it will probably follow a lot of the principles/ethos of Steve Jobs, but will it be as successful without Steve Jobs actually making those decisions? We'll see.
The problem is that you can't repeat it if you're going to do it by half-measures. Apple succeeds because it applies its formula 100%; others fail to follow Apple's example because they do "all BUT" some aspect or another.
That said, if another organization wants to do what Apple does, they will have to make some adjustments to acknowledge their reality -- but you really can't do part of what Apple does and say that Apple's process isn't repeatable.
You just can't cut Jobs as a catalyst only. His mind is welded to the myriad of changing variables in technology and no plan is going to be able to emulate that.
In lots of ways, his work is done; certainly the product managers and C-level folks get what differentiates Apple from everyone else and that’s not changing because Steve Jobs’ title has changed.
The point of Gruber’s article is that Steve has been gone for large chunks of time already and Apple keeps cranking along—he’s been on medical leave for over 8 months now—and Apple hasn’t missed a beat. Not even close.
The roles Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have been in for almost all of 2011 have been formalized, with Cook being named CEO and Jobs now Chairman of the board.
So, no, I don’t see upcoming blunders or missteps. Tim Cook isn’t Steve Jobs, but remember that Apple wouldn’t be where they are today without Tim Cook either. He fixed Apple’s manufacturing and supply chain issues that plagued Apple for years prior to his arrival from Compaq. Without Tim Cook, there’s no way Apple could crank out the tens of millions of iOS devices that are just taken for granted nowadays.
He was the most important man in tech in 1978 and he is in 2011. The legacy he leaves is not just that of beautiful objects and sensational business intuition, but the generations of people he inspired. My first computer was a Mac, and it was love at first touch. Since that first moment I have always been profoundly fascinated with consumer electronics and computers in particular. I'm sure that I have kin, even among the haters.
And call me a fanboy, but any man who can relentlessly carve a path for passionately crafted objects in the face of largely monotonous, analytics; well, I'm glad he stuck to it.
Thanks Steve. I hope you're well.
It can change for the better... or it can change for the worse. There is no question that it will change.
I've always found it fascinating at how large companies, armies, or anything else really have a way of taking on the personality of their leadership. It's why CEO's make so much money. I hope that this will be a change for the better.
Apple/Steve has done this transition well, and the market is (mostly) satisfied that Apple has competent leadership.
I predict this news, like previous such news (like Tim Cook as interim CEO), will soon be eclipsed by other relevant events (like iPhone5 launch).
I have deep respect for some of Apple's design leadership, but calling the company humble is pure fanboyism.
The "truth" part is also questionable. Apple's product announcements are usually gushing with superlatives, sometimes at the expense of accuracy:
Based on the context of that sentence I would say Gruber meant it more in the way of "truth to materials" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_to_materials) in which Apple's design is reductive and efficient to the user. No ornament beyond the materials that construct the product.
I see you do that and I wonder why on earth anyone would be so loyal to a corporation that they would be willing to drag their own credibility down to defend the credibility of a corporation which in they have no vested interest. It baffles me and makes no sense.
That aside, let's get back to what you said:
I don't think he meant truth in terms of marketing ...snip... but truth as design fundamental.
Can you elaborate on what you think this is supposed to mean, apart from being a divertion away from the fact that Apple, more than any other company currently out there, manipulates and lies to their audience and to sustain their image as "different"?
What are some examples in which Apple misrepresents customers?
Reading around the web an hour ago, looking for confirmation of the then-minutes-old news that Jesus had resigned as prince of the apostles, I repeatedly encountered and bridled each time at use of the adjective “shocking” to describe the announcement. But my initial resentment was unwarranted. This is not out of nowhere, it’s not even unexpected. We could all see this was coming — but it is a shock.
I saw that headline and my nervous system took a jolt.
The thing to keep in mind is this: Christianity tomorrow, a week from now, and next month is the exact same Christianity from yesterday, a week ago, and last month. Saint Peter wasn’t named “Prince of the Apostles” until today, but he’s been the chief executive at the congregation since Jesus started this — his third — medical leave back in January, and probably even before that. Whatever Jesus' role is going forward, it’s only different in title than what it has been, in effect, for some time. Whatever it is that ails him, he’s been diminished.
It’s no coincidence that I wrote about succeeding Jesus just last month. All you need to read in that piece is the second footnote:
Perhaps this entire article could be replaced with, “Look, it’s going to be Saint Peter, and that’s that.”
He’s here, but this is the first post-Jesus keynote.
Jesus' greatest creation isn’t any Christianity's teaching. It is Christianity itself.
Today’s announcement is just one more step, albeit a big and sad one, in a long-planned orderly transition — a transition that no one wanted but which could not, alas, be avoided. And as ever, he’s doing it his way.
So it goes.
I was off by a few months, but here's a snippet from my Ameritrade account:
06/07/2011 12:37:38 Sold 69 AAPL @ 333.3
Granted, I hedged by only selling some of my shares. My thinking was to take profits on long-term gains, and then re-invest again if the stock dips after this announcement. AAPL will increase in value if there's a dip – no question in my mind.
Edit: Oh, duh, because you still own stock in them. See above.
The first thing I did when I heard the news is send Steve a thank you note.
Steve Jobs may not be the CEO anymore, but his spirit and philosophy will be alive and well in Apple for a long time to come, no matter what happens with him personally.
Maybe, but skeptics will probably be right to doubt it. Many had similar hopes as yours when Steve was fired from Apple in the '80s. The company ambled along for a few years, then started its famous nosedive.
Expect the same this time.
Also, don't forget that Apple is stuffed with talented people, like Ive, Forstall and Federighi who won't let apple become another 'me too' company with junky and overpriced products (like the Apple in the late 80's): http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/news/1105/gallery.fortun...
I am confident that we will have nice computing hardware in the future. Even today, Apple are not the only ones to deliver.
But there is/was only one Steve Jobs.
Guess I am one of the few on HN who doesn't own Apple stock, so I am free to just worry about the man and not the company.
The biggest thing Steve Jobs brought to Apple was to build a culture that supported his vision. Apple as a whole is focused on the mold that Steve brought back with him. Tim Cook has been the avatar and excellence in this image on the operations/production side. A company that has AMAZING profit margins on it's products due to the operational efforts to buying up needed parts ahead of time, etc. I suspect Jonathan Ive will be able to continue the design esthetic. Apple is a company running on all cylinders to deliver focused products. This differs greatly from the Apple before Job's returned. Will the focus erode? Possibly, maybe some of the perfection will be lost, but there is a much stronger base in plance than ANY other company in the valley in the last 20+ years.
Compare this with Microsoft when Bill Gates steped down. While, I personally feel that MSFT has made some positive steps in mobile with the Nokia partnership and WinPhone 7 doesn't suck, the company wasn't focused. Each department was kinda doing it's own thing. Ballmer was left to try and build something out of a lot of disparite pieces. As such, MSFT, as a stock, has basically flatlined for 10+ years.
I think it is safe to say, outside of Hewlett & Packard (more recently) and the Fairchild Eight, no single person has been more influential on the Bay Area technology scene in my lifetime (born and raised here). I will go one step further, and state, I don't see any of the current "elite" Paige/Brin/Zuck/Ellison(he's still around and strong) contributing anywhere as much.
Steve, like Bill and Dave, Gordon Moore (etal), are in a class of their own.
I've loved/hated AAPL products over the years, but Steve has been nothing but a gem for the valley.
Good text, but maybe not well-chosen words throughout the whole post. Humility is a little too much.
All of the iPad competitor devices absolutely suck at looking up the definition of a word in an ebook. (The ones I've tried that is.) On the iPad it is so simple, so intuitive, and quite fast. When they do something they do it well.
Sidenote: Apple views these gestures as the equivalent to keyboard shortcuts. For the end user you want to create the obvious so they won't be confused.
Don't know about that. Apple, like all hi-tech companies, is constantly changing, adapting, finding new ways, dealing with change, innovation, etc.
"Technology is not changing [life] much — if at all." ~ Steve Jobs
Apple will still be Apple. Apple will: Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
And Apple will: Think different.
The one real change? No more Jobs' keynotes. I'm sad.
Apple will continue being Apple - that is they won't change names, they'll continue innovating and creating amazing products. But to say they'll be the same Apple with and without Steve Jobs is silly and belittles the importance of having Steve in the company in the first place. There's no doubt that the path of Apple will be different.
Seriously how does this apple-ass-clown constantly make it to the front page?
Apple is not a person it is a company. Steve might be full of humility, Apple is not.
But I think his underlying point is that Apple
consistently executes similar values and priorities in many different areas -- for a company of its size, it's amazingly coherent and consistent.
Compare them to HP, where the CEO kills an entire product division that their webpage is still breathlessly promoting for days afterwards, which makes it seem like no one knows what the hell is going on over there and that they don't really believe in anything they do. As soon as Apple announces something, its whole public persona is consistent with that. It's kind of amazing. At the very least, you can count on being consistently annoyed with their values.
John is saying that Apple's products have an "Apple-ness", as does each app on each product, each feature within each app, etc.
He is suggesting that the zen-like simplicity of Apple can be found at many different levels of the organization. I don't think it's overly biased dribble... it's an eloquent point that Apple Inc. is a culture (cult?) with a clearly identifiable philosophy that permeates every element of the org.
It _still_ isn't clear whether the parent is Daring Fireball's author ( but I don't suppose I doubt it much )