Steve Jobs is Apple

The rumors and stories surrounding the health of Apple’s CEO are rife. Has he had a liver transplant? Has he already returned to work? All this shows how entwined he is with the success of the brand. The success of brands is often associated with an iconic leader. For years Bill Gates was Microsoft. Virgin is Richard Branson. And of course Ford was, well Ford. Of course companies are way bigger than one person and their success doesn’t rely on these iconic leaders, at least not on a day to day basis. These leaders are the people that do, however, set the vision, the tone and the values of the company. Jobs has set a culture of perfection. He has set out a product strategy and he has set out a vision. All of these will enable the business to be a success… for a while. If he does dial back, or even leave, it will affect the company. How quickly and to what extent remains to be seen. My guess is that Apple will do fine for a year or two without him at the helm but if his replacement cannot install his or her own brand of magic, Apple could well turn into just another consumer electronics company. That would be a sad day.

All of this uncertainty around Jobs’ health does create an opening for his rivals. Rivals could of course praise Steve and make it clear how great a job he has done at Apple and how amazing his vision is etc. They would do this to make people connect him even more with the brand, so that if he does have to step down, the loss would be seen as all the greater. I’m sure they wouldn’t do that kind of thing though. Would they?

One Comment on “Steve Jobs is Apple”

  1. Don Bartholomew says:

    Hi Tim,
    Interesting perspective in your post, and I rather like your 'build up Steve' strategy 😉 You'll recall the rock star CEO period of the late '90s in the tech industry. Lots of debate – CEO branding v. all your eggs in one basket. Corporate America concluded that the rock star approach perhaps was short-sided. Now we have people like Mark Hurd on the cover of Fortune. All steak, no sizzle with Mr. Hurd.

    I am somewhat concerned that many in the social media space apparently did not get the memo on creating rock stars. Many thought leaders seem overly focused on becoming micro celebrities, the rock stars of social media. Even a conference by that name occurring right now I believe. I'm just not sure this model translates well to the business world.

    Although Gates was never quite as identified with Microsoft as Jobs is with Apple, I actually believe Microsoft has done a pretty skillful multi-year job of transitioning the focus away from Gates toward Ballmer and the rest of the team.
    Thanks, Don B @donbart

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