I’d often wondered about Apple’s future once Steve Jobs leaves. As much as we would love him to be there for years and years to come, he’s getting on in years and it’s only a matter of time before he steps down as CEO.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article claiming that members of Apple’s board were discussing who would succeed Jobs, allegedly approaching “executive recruiters and at least one head of a high-profile technology company”.
After pointing out how dubiously sourced this story is and dismissing the possible non-Apple candidates, John Gruber concluded that Tim Cook (COO and current acting CEO at Apple) was the most obvious choice:
Everyone wants this to be an interesting story, but it’s not. There is no intrigue. If Jobs steps down in the foreseeable future his replacement will almost certainly be Tim Cook. Utter credibility on Wall Street, and much respect within Apple. He’s already run the company while Jobs has been on leave. The knock against him is that he’s an operations and finance guy, not a product design guy. Ideally Apple would find someone just like Steve Jobs, but there exists no such person. There will not be a next Steve Jobs. There will be a next CEO.
Things would be different if Apple weren’t both larger and growing faster than all of its competitors. But they are. Apple has different values than its competitors, and everyone in the company believes that it is because of these differences, not despite them, that Apple has achieved its current success. The last thing Apple needs is a shake-up or a dose of what any of their competitors are drinking.
Put another way, the obvious structure for a post-Jobs Apple is simply Apple as we know it, without Steve Jobs.