Apple: Beyond Steve Jobs

Goodbye, Steve Jobs. The cofounder, chairman, and former CEO of {complink 379|Apple Inc.} and one of the technology world's most innovative minds died Wednesday. He was 56. Jobs will be sorely missed by his family, colleagues, friends, and even foes. Jobs came, conquered, and left a lasting legacy. We mourn his passing but, just as equally, celebrate the life he lived and the impact he has had on the electronics industry.

Now the company he built and rescued must go on without him. Apple was on the verge of collapsing when Jobs returned to the company more than 10 years ago, but by the time of his passing, it had become hugely profitable — the world's highest-valued company by market capitalization, incredibly feared by competitors and deliriously loved by shareholders and fans. The Jobs mystique played a part, even though analysts continue to discount this, arguing (with merit) that Apple was more than one individual, and that the late chairman was a great motivator who drove his team to excellence, rather than the one solely responsible for its success.

That's true, but it represents only half the story. In Jobs, Apple had an unparalleled marketing engine. The huge success Apple had following his return only helped to elevate him to a select group of individuals who became so closely identified with their companies that the two identities — corporate and personal — fused into one. Jobs alone was worth billions in marketing value and goodwill. So, as we mourn his passing, we must also look more closely at what Apple is without Jobs. Some analysts have said it will remain highly valued even without Jobs, but I doubt this, and recent events indicate I might be right.

Jobs had been sick for a while. But even when he handed over the CEO position to Timothy Cook on August 24, the Apple cofounder was named chairman of the board of directors, a position that previously didn't exist at Apple. Jobs' death less than two months later indicates he must have been very sick at the time, so why did he cling to Apple, and why did the board appoint such a sick person to this important position, knowing he was near death? The answer lies in the Jobs aura. The company probably wanted to phase out his involvement gradually, so as not to start a stockholder panic.

In the next few weeks — after leaving enough time to mourn Jobs — analysts will start asking the serious questions some of us have been raising recently. I expect valuations and price targets for Apple's stock to come under pressure. There will also be a closer assessment of the company's offerings, its overall strategy, and its relationship with telecoms.

Let me set the stage. Apple, despite its giddy success, is in a challenging, commodity business. The company sells PCs, digital music players, phones, and tablet PCs — all commodity products susceptible to severe price erosion. The difference between Apple and the competition is that it does what it does much better, and it sells not just a product, but an experience, leaving the user willing to pay a premium for the extras, the user interface, the Apple ecosystem, and the “coolness” of the product.

But does that mean Apple is immune to the commoditization of its market? It is as exposed. Apple's strategy is to stay several steps ahead of the price erosion, and the company deserves credit for doing this. However, recent cuts in tablet prices by rivals like {complink 2376|Hewlett-Packard Co.} and {complink 4644|Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)} and the unveiling of a set of cheaper tablets from {complink 11480| Inc.} tell us a sea change is coming. The market is headed for a price war that not even Apple can fully deflect.

The recently launched Apple iPhone 4S didn't quite wow the market, for instance, because it lacked “killer” features. Many of the updates were already in competing products. Rick Merritt captured the main question on many people's minds in a recent EE Times article, “Apple iPhone 4S: Beginning of the end?

Apple's management will be asked similar questions in the future, this time with the intense ferocity analysts did not display while Jobs was alive.

39 comments on “Apple: Beyond Steve Jobs

  1. Anna Young
    October 6, 2011

    A great man! Great loss! My condolences to the family.

  2. Wale Bakare
    October 6, 2011

    A collosal loss to his family and Apple empire. Rest well great technology innovator!

  3. saranyatil
    October 6, 2011

    May his sole rest in peace. We have lost a great mind.

  4. Ariella
    October 6, 2011

    I do wonder if it will be possible to rally people around the cause of pancreatic cancer with such a public figure struck down by it. From what I understand, that diagnosis is always a death sentence. There is no hope for anyone afflicted with it; they literally only have a few months to live.  

  5. Adeniji Kayode
    October 6, 2011

    Even though Steve has departed this world, his name lives on due to his good works.

    Adieu Steve.

  6. Tim Votapka
    October 6, 2011

    It's a loss when anyone at such a young age succumbs to a terminal disease or a sudden tragedy. Steve Jobs did what he wanted to do for as long as possible, and I'm sure he worked tirelessly to ensure the succession at Apple would go as well as possible via Tim Cook's leadership.

    I'm not an Apple insider, nor do I have any sources within the company to give me their perspective, yet based on what I viewed earlier this week from the Apple I4S intro (recorded on the tone and demeanor of the leaders at Apple is just as confident and on-purpose as Steve Jobs would have wanted it. That's the mark of a good leader.

    Best wishes to the Jobs' family and to the employees at Apple worldwide.


  7. Clairvoyant
    October 6, 2011

    Very true, Adeniji. The company he helped create will continue to be prosperous if the company continues in what it is already doing.

    October 6, 2011

    We are all saddened by the news of Steve Jobs passing away.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

  9. Diane Trommer
    October 6, 2011

    It's strange how personal his passing feels. Can't imagine life without my MACs.


  10. AnalyzeThis
    October 6, 2011

    Bolaji, you are correct that in the next few weeks — after it is appropriate to do so — analysts will be very openly questioning Apple's future and valuation. It is difficult for many to think of such things so soon after his passing, but unfortunately this is the reality.

    And of course the Jobs mystique carries on even after his death: he is possibly the most well-known and revered leader of ANY company. As you correctly say, his image and pitchman skills were likely worth billions and I don't believe that to be an exaggeration. Yet still, putting the mystique aside, he is just one person and Apple did not collapse in his absence.

    It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I do think we'll see an increase in the amount of negativity and concern surrounding Apple's future in the coming months. But on the other hand, Apple has had an amazing run… to continue that kind of incredible growth in the current economic climate is something I don't think was sustainable. Even if Jobs was still around.

  11. Wale Bakare
    October 6, 2011

    Yes Adeniji. Now, how long will it take to produce or replace such a colourful minded and a visionary leader. His greatness transcends to all iproducts to what nearly every tech consumer adores today. Am very sure, his legacy leaves forever in Apple.

  12. Susan Fourtané
    October 6, 2011


    Yes, that's right. I have also been having thoughts about cancer, treatment and research lately, and wondering if the family would think of a Steve Jobs' Cancer Fundation; maybe supporting the experimental treatment that he received in Switzerland  (<--link) at the beginning of this year.

    It seems to be really expensive, which makes me wonder how come doctors let patients die if they can't pay a cancer tratment. I honestly think it's inhumane. 


    Jobs' Swiss Treatment Experimental and Effective

    Experts say the treatment Jobs underwent is an experimental procedure called peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). It involves delivering radiation to tumor cells by attaching one of two radioactive isotopes to a drug that mimics somatostatin, the hormone that regulates the entire endocrine system and the secretion of other hormones.

    Specialists who treat neuroendocrine cancers say PRRT is very effective, but because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet approved it, patients who want the treatment typically head to Europe for it.

    “It shrinks tumors in about a third of cases significantly, and it lasts on average about two to three years,” said Strosberg.

    “Even though you get tumor shrinkage, you mostly get disease progression that stabilizes,” said Dr. Thomas O'Dorisio, professor of medicine at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

    Experts believe the FDA will eventually approve PRRT.

    “The data are coming out slowly. There's never been a phase 3 clinical trial, and that's why it's not okayed yet,” said O'Dorisio.

    “It's a new, experimental treatment, and it has to go through the same approval process as all drugs,” said Ayala.


    PRRT Treatment Also Costly

    A company called Excel Diagnostics Imaging Clinics, based out of Houston, Tex., was approved by the FDA to begin an investigational new drug trial for PRRT. However, O'Dorisio said it's cheaper to get the therapy at University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland, where Jobs is believed to have received his.

    “It's $4,200 per treatment at Basel,” said O'Dorisio. He said patients generally receive four treatments. He estimates the cost of treatment in Texas at $15,000 per treatment, which may or may not be covered by health insurance.



  13. JADEN
    October 6, 2011

    Few months ago when Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO, the question was “what happens to Apple next?”, with his passing away, hope Apple can continue to innovate without him.

  14. Anne
    October 6, 2011

    Apple will continue to innovate and succeed after the death of Steve Jobs, though his ideas changed the world of Apple, and the ideas, the principles and the vision are still there as guides to the company.

  15. Anand
    October 7, 2011

    “Jobs' death less than two months later indicates he must have been very sick at the time, so why did he cling to Apple”

    The fact that he was heading such important position inspite of being unwell shows his passion for his work and technology. I really salute his courage. We will all miss you Steve.


  16. elctrnx_lyf
    October 7, 2011

    I think apple is in such a position becuase of great vision of steve and excellence of his team. Now it is left to new ceo tim cook and the apple team to try and bring out great products in the future.

  17. Anand
    October 7, 2011

    Apple will continue to innovate and succeed after the death of Steve Jobs

    @Anne I agree with you that Apple will continue with its innovation but the big question is will those innovation be successful? We have already seen some average reviews for Apple 4S phone. Moreover android mobiles are offering some smart features like NFC. From now on it would be tough ride for Apple.

  18. HM
    October 7, 2011

    I agree to that point anandvy. 

    Steve Jobs was an inspiration for lot of entrepreneurs. His demise is a real sad news for the tech world.

    It will be interesting to watch the phone wars now.

  19. jbond
    October 7, 2011

    Steve Jobs will be missed by millions of people, many of who aren't even Apple fans. It is going to be hard to find anybody who has helped to develop and evolve so much that our society takes for granted. If it was not for his innovative thinking throughout his career, we would be missing the tech boom that we all have been enjoying with our love of electronics.

    It will be interesting to see how Apple performs over the next year or so with people knowing Jobs won't be there for a surprise announcement or development.

  20. Adeniji Kayode
    October 7, 2011

    @Ann, You are right,His passing might have been a great loss to the world but his visions and works should live on-This is one of the qualities of a good leader.

  21. Adeniji Kayode
    October 7, 2011

    You made a good observation on that. It is possible that he stepped down then probably when his health was really telling on him.

  22. JADEN
    October 7, 2011

    @ Anandvy

    I believe the innovation can continue to be a success if Apple does not deviate from their ideas and visions.

  23. Adeniji Kayode
    October 7, 2011

    @elctrnx.You are right ,Tim cook and the Apple team have a big challenge  ahead of them right now and that is maintainting the standard of success Jobs left behind, build on it and keep making progress.

  24. Nemos
    October 7, 2011

    Although I don't agree with the Apple policy (you can find here a lot of comments about what Apple does in a wrong way) I have to admit when I heard a speech of Steve  really inspired me (Spent a few minutes to see). Also I want to say as loud as I can from here ,I don't want the son to lose his father at the age of 56 ,I don't want the mother to lose her husband at the age of 56 ……

  25. Parser
    October 7, 2011

    It is too early make a conclusion about iPhone 4s. Yes, it lacks killer features, but so was model 3s. I think that for super new features it is good to have about 2 years design cycle. Also purchases are subsidized by phone companies with 2-year contract and pushing that cycle will make many people reluctant to pay extra for breaching the contract.

    Every year for the buzz against competition some kind of an update has to be done and here we have 4s. In a year we will see if Apple without Steve can make so called killer features.  

  26. t.alex
    October 8, 2011

    We hope so. However, i believe lots of people can only trust Apple when Steve is in charge. Otherwise, it is just another big company.

  27. tmlow
    October 8, 2011

    With the passing of Mr. Steve Jobs, Apple will never be the same. For good or bad, remains to be seen. Mr. Steve Jobs is/was a rare gem (extremely gifted despite set backs early in his life) on global scale. No two persons will be the same.

  28. _hm
    October 8, 2011

    Apple can take lots of ispiration from big blue – IBM. Job was the great and must have developed culture of innovation at Apple. I wish it will contiue same and we will see many more innovative porducts in tribute to Steve Jobs.


  29. Susan Fourtané
    October 9, 2011

    “for super new features it is good to have about 2 years design cycle. Also purchases are subsidized by phone companies with 2-year contract and pushing that cycle will make many people reluctant to pay extra for breaching the contract.”


    Yes, I completely agree. I believe there were two mistakes made by some people and their speculation: the non-existent for now iPhone 5 and killer features before the 2 year design cycle.

    There was too much anxiety and expectation on something that no one really knew. It was just like when a fantasy is not fulfilled. Apple is not to blame about this. 



  30. Susan Fourtané
    October 9, 2011

    Oh, yes, Nemos!

    That is the most inspiring speech I have heard in my life if I remember well, or at least in a very long time. Truly inspiring and very thought-provoking. It has kept me thinking, wondering and questioning about many, many things since the first time I saw the video some days ago. 

    This speech can make wonders if we really catch the message. 

    As for Apple, Steve Jobs was a sort of teacher, not only leader. If Apple don't forget Steve's teachings and guidance it will remain as the successful company it has been so far and will keep the creativity and innovation on top of their agenda. 


  31. Wale Bakare
    October 9, 2011


    That seems to be my feeling as well but a big and vibrant high -tech corporation like Apple will be able to cope with or without Steve Jobs.

  32. Nemos
    October 9, 2011

    «Stay hungry. Stay foolish» We can learn a lot from this phrase. People want to have idols and to admire them, I don't know why but the problem is that they don't try to adapt the positive thoughts of Steve instead of that I have seen  a dozen of msgs on Facebook saying how big brain Steve was….

  33. itguyphil
    October 9, 2011


    Never say never. Remember when people are counted out, they have a great opportunity to overachieve & succeed.

  34. Susan Fourtané
    October 10, 2011


    Having idols just for the sake of it doesn't work. Learning something from others is what works. As you said, we can learn a lot from that speech and adapt what touches us in our own life. Then we can truly say that Steve or anyone else has made a positive contribution teaching us something to improve ourselves. 

    Yes, I have also seen many messages saying not much, actually they sound more like parrots than like someone who has discovered a good lesson. 

    But well, I guess we are all different and react different to what we encounter in life. 


  35. bolaji ojo
    October 10, 2011

    @Susan & @Nemos, Thank you for among the more reflective comments I have in recent days read about Steve Jobs' death.

  36. Ariella
    October 10, 2011

    @Wale, yes, and the latest sales figures substantiate your view.

  37. Susan Fourtané
    October 10, 2011

    Thank you, Bolaji. 


  38. Mr. Roques
    October 12, 2011

    I admire how Apple has been able to stop the commoditization of its products. They lower prices but its no price war. 

    Their computer segment is the cash cow that has been able keep the prices above average and still sell a TON of computers.

    I think the phone segment is their biggest concern because users are more volatile and Samsung and other android friendly devices are matching up to the expectations.

    Tablets? I think they are a safe bet to continue cashing in.


  39. jennifergrace
    June 25, 2018

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