News of Steve Jobs’s resignation as CEO from Apple began trickling down Twitter, then the regular news outlets yesterday evening. You know you’re an integral part of ongoing history when the major newspapers can’t decide whether to lead with “4.5 Aftershock in Virginia” or “Steve Jobs resigns as CEO from Apple”. That’s how much of an impact Steve Jobs has made not only on the IT industry, but on society as a whole. I’m not exaggerating: the man has become an icon, Apple products have become the machines to have if you’re serious about your tech (and if you’d like your equipment to make your life easier rather than harder, and your IT-experience more smooth and enjoyable).
The man is a visionary, and has been a CEO that has demonstrated remarkable insight into not only product development, but also into marketing. Of course, the products that come from Apple work, and they work well; they’re innovative; they’re beautiful. But while much has been made of Jobs’s “reality distortion field” when he is up on stage launching new products or a new line of an existing product, what the RDF really is is a man who is genuinely and unabashedly excited about the product he is selling. He doesn’t hide his enthusiasm, he radiates it and transfers it to his audience. Of course, credit where credit is due, few people have the charisma to do this as effectively as Steve Jobs has done. That’s half of what makes people go out and buy every single new Apple gadget and computer that is released. The other half, the half that ultimately matters, is quality.
And that is why it is important to remember that while Apple in its current configuration is Steve Jobs’s baby, in addition to having been its CEO, he has also been a figurehead. The essence of Apple’s performance has been in the hands of a team and Tim Cook has been an integral part of that team since 1998. He has stepped up as acting CEO three times before, while Steve Jobs was on sick leave. The company didn’t suffer at all during those periods, and it wasn’t because Steve Jobs was secretly still running the whole show after all – he couldn’t; the man was seriously ill. The fact is that Tim Cook is more than capable of running Apple successfully. One of the qualities most associated with the now former CEO of Apple is his tendency to personally control every aspect of his company: Jobs is viewed as a perfectionist and a control freak. It’s what makes Apple’s products so successful. People in general, and the market specifically, would do well to remember that fact, since it is extremely unlikely that detail-driven Jobs would have been negligent in paying attention to the massively important detail of transferring leadership of Apple when the time came.
The time has come, and Tim Cook is ready; Apple will maintain its quality standards; Steve Jobs’s vision will be continued. I have no doubts about that.
Apple is entering a new phase, and in my mind I can almost hear Steve Jobs saying it: “We’re really excited about this!”*
*Just to be clear, this is my opinion of these developments and not actually Steve Jobs’s statement upon transferring leadership to Tim Cook.