Published: 25 August, 2011
The Apple share price was never going to slide based on what analysts genuinely say about the company. It still had some ways to go, according to most investment advisers, certainly over $400, but it slid on the news that Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO. Jobs said he will take over as chairman, and COO Tim Cook will fill Jobs' previous role as CEO. No-one is outwardly saying the Cook cannot do the job. All Apple lovers should support him and give him every chance. But will they?
Something like 10% came off the price before it began to recover and it sits on $373 as we write this. Some investors have panicked, and after seeing that the share price has not plummeted, one or two of them must have bought back in.
We have no space here for the praise of Jobs. Others more eloquent than us will know him better and tell his story, and it is as impressive as any corporate or technology story ever told. All we can do is wish him well personally and hope his health improves.
Cook is the one that needs our words right now. All he has to do is continue to do the wonderful job that he has been doing, and continue under the shadow of Jobs' Chairmanship - but will Wall Street let him.
The impact of Jobs has been to re-invent things - the media player, the handset, and invent things, the tablet computer. But that's not really the job of Cook. Sure he may re-invent more things, the TV experience, the home network, but he has to continue to extract huge margins out of phones and tablets. And that requires a different set of skills perhaps than those he is used to.
The first time an investor things, Steve Jobs wouldn't have done that, the pressure will come onto Cook. If he lasts a year, he will have done well. If he lasts two he will probably have a job for the rest of his working life.
But Cook will find scrutiny and comparison with Jobs hard to live up to. And this is just as Apple will begin to come under anti-trust scrutiny, and be held to book on several patent infringement counts. This is a world where more Androids ship than iPhones. Cook is running a very different Apple from the one that Jobs ran, and he is bound to make some early mistakes.
We already have an example of what happened before at Apple when Steve Jobs originally left to create NextStep, at the time thought to be too entrepreneurial to lead the size of company that Apple had become. The Board had brought in John Sculley, fresh from his "winning" of the cola wars (for Pepsi). Sculley's job was to bring pragmatism, heightened marketing and to put a leash on Jobs. That was never going to work and Jobs left.
Only the fact that Jobs has taken up the mantle of Chairmanship will prevent something similar happening today at Apple. But for how long will that be?
For a full assessment of Apple without Jobs, go to Faultline at www.rethinkresearch.biz