Following from my earlier blog on how Apple may suffer without Steve Jobs, this post focuses on reasons why Apple may well continue flourishing even without Jobs.
To recap, some say Apple is too reliant on Steve Jobs to be able to continue doing well without him, pointing to how the company suffered during Jobs’ 10 year absence over 20 years ago. However, Apple has moved on since its near bankruptcy during Jobs’ absence from the company, and has grown a lot stronger as a whole. Despite what has happened on previous occasions, Apple now probably has the strength to survive without its founder.
Apple is a well oiled machine
Tim Bajarin who works for the research firm Creative Strategies is optimistic about Apple as a company as a whole, referring to it as a “well-oiled machine”. Although Steve Jobs has been the creative genius behind Apple, it is not him alone that makes the company what it is today. Employees have been trained to “think like Steve”, and recently a number of the creative ideas have not come purely from Jobs. On top of this, whilst Jobs has been integral to making the company what it is today, he has now laid down solid foundations to be built upon. Back in 1985 the company did not do so well without Jobs because the foundations were not yet in place. Now the company has been built to ensure it is not entirely reliant on one man for its survival. New products and updates are already lined up for the future that could help to continue to fuel the company’s pre-eminence in design.
Besides Steve Jobs there are a number of other valuable members of the Apple team who should not be overlooked. Tim Cook has been in charge of overseeing the company during Jobs’ leaves of absence for ill-health, and is predicted as a potential successor to Jobs. During Jobs’ absences he has been very successful in maintaining the smooth running of the company, doing so well that on his first time he was promoted to COO. Additionally Jonathan Ives is one of the top industrial designers in the world and Eddy Cue has helped make iTunes and App stores a great success. With such talented individuals working for Apple, it is unlikely the company would fail without Jobs.
Disney, Hewlett Packard and Ford have survived
Looking back at how other companies have done when they have lost their founders also suggests Apple’s continuing success.
Disney is still ongoing without Walt Disney; HP is going strong without Hewlett and Packard, and Ford without Henry Ford. If all these companies managed without their founders, then surely Apple will be able to do the same? On top of this, unlike these companies, one of Jobs’ primary concerns has been to build a brand that can survive on its own terms.
As Warren Bennis, a professor of business administration at the University of Southern Carolina, puts it, whilst before people were interested in creating products, “there is a different kind of innovation today that has to do with crafting the overall experience”. Jobs would have ensured that he had created a strong brand as well as good products.
On the whole the prospects for Apple look promising. With a potential successor, and many products lined up for the future, the likelihood is that the company will be able to keep going without Jobs.
However, whether it would be able to sustain its differentiating position for pre-eminence in design is debatable as it is difficult anyway to be pre-eminent in design long term given the emergence of other companies that also excel in design.