Apple in the Post Jobs Era

by Matt Klassen on September 2, 2011

It was eleven years ago when current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took over for the company founder Bill Gates, and from that moment on Microsoft was irrevocably changed.

Although the company continued to be successful, to dominate its respective markets, and still built popular products, with the departure of Gates the PC giant seemed to lose some of its swagger, that je ne sais quoi that made Microsoft a market leader. As Jeff Kagan from the E-Commerce Times writes, “[Microsoft] became just an ordinary company. Still large, still successful, but ordinary.”

Now with Apple having just said adieu to Steve Jobs, the CEO that lead the company to its dominant position in many technology markets, will it follow in Microsoft’s footsteps, losing that intangible spark that made the company so successful? As with any leadership change, one thing is for sure, Apple will change, and it’ll be interesting to see if consumer interests change with it.

Much like many championship sports teams, often times a successful company is defined by its leader, a man or woman who has grown beyond the mere title of CEO to become the face, nay, the heart, of the company, and even in the business world, heart transplants are tricky business.

Although Steve Jobs was only one large cog in the Apple machine, I don’t think one can understate his role in turning Apple into what it is today. Not only did Jobs have his finger on the technological pulse of the nation, but he understood that to be a successful technology company one has to market not just gadgets, but a comprehensive lifestyle, and its this point in particular that has many consumers clamoring for that next Apple device.

But as I mentioned, Jobs is merely a cog in the machine, one man in a huge multinational corporation, and while he occupied the most important role in the company, there remains the same management team and staff that assisted Jobs in leading the company to its current lofty market perch. So how much impact will Jobs’ departure have on the company?

With a new CEO things at Apple will change, there’s really no question about it. It may be that the company, like Microsoft, loses some of its swagger, that borders-on-cocky confidence that allowed Jobs’ to turn the weaknesses of his products into their most attractive strengths (think Flash). Will new CEO Tim Cook be able to match that sort of bravado? And if not, will Apple’s image—and thus the comprehensive lifestyle that Apple markets—suffer?

That’s not to say that Cook, for his part, can’t create a popular market persona, but simply that such a task will take time and regardless of the outcome, Apple will have a different look and a different feel. Now the question remains, will consumers still like this new Apple?

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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