New York, 24th July 2008
In the financial news this week, much is made of the health of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, in particular after the quarterly results were announced earlier this week. The question relates to his pancreatic cancer in 2004, and the fact that he kept it quiet then for about 9 months.
The spokesman of Apple Inc. states that Steve’s health is a private matter. On the one hand, I totally agree with him. On the other, this is a situation of Steve’s own making – as he has become Apple. It shows how this (and he) is Apple’s strength – Apple would not be where they are today without Steve’s leadership. However, it is also their weakness, in particular since Steve has never shown any signs of succession or given an inkling that he has even considered that someone might take over from him as his successor. It is still the same one-man show.
You also have to ask yourself if there even is someone who could succeed Steve Jobs from within the company as this person will necessarily have grown up in the shadow of the strong personality Steve is. The saying "nothing grows in the shadow of a big tree" is an apt one in this situation. Like with most large corporations, it is more likely that Apple will look elsewhere for the right man/woman when the time comes. To announce a crown prince too far ahead of time is usually counterproductive, only giving him/her time to stumble long before reaching the throne.
For all of us Apple fans out there, we can only hope that Steve Jobs will be the man to announce a great new Apple product in San Francisco for many years to come.