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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

At Apple, change isn’t always a good thing

Published: February 12, 2010
Section: Opinions

Steve Jobs is a brilliant gentleman who has created a company that is “different”—its brand alone is worth millions. Apple has become an avant-garde company in industrial organization, hardware and software design. Jobs has been the main architect behind the creation of Apple. He is some kind of mystic wizard who has managed to create great quality electronics with elegant designs and give great customer care. Apple is increasingly gaining market share on computer users, phone users, music listeners, TV watchers, book readers and who knows what else may come. Will it continue this way?

The corporate world of Wall Street is an ocean full of sharks, and Steve Jobs learned this the hard way. Five years after Apple went public in 1980, the board of directors decided to fire Jobs. Jobs purchased Pixar and created a new company, NeXT, soon after. Both were successful.

By 1996, Apple was not the innovative brand it had been and its software and design were lagging behind, and the stock was stagnant. So, the board decided to rehire Jobs and he became CEO soon after. Things began looking up as Jobs’ marketing magic was put to work by starting the names of most products with the now ubiquitous lower case “i.”

The stock has increased from $6 in 1996 (when Jobs came back) to a peak of $210. Jobs has been, without a doubt, one of the most influential people of the past decade. He is undeniably the element behind Apple. He has brought an innovative line of products that literally keep on changing the game of the industry, such as the iPod, which has captured 73.8 percent of the market. And what about the iPhone? Talk about a game changer.

Jobs is so essential to the company that his absence from Apple’s 2008 keynote speech due to health problems caused the stock price to fall sharply by 53 percent. In other words, Wall St. thinks he is worth half of the company.

It is for that reason Jobs should ensure that any transition he makes out of power goes smoothly and does not disrupt the operations or value of the company.

Unfortunately, that transition might need to occur sooner rather than later.

During his aforementioned sick leave, Jobs received a liver transplant, following his miraculous recovery from a rare type of cancer a few years ago. Many things have happened to his life to make us believe that he is not in top shape.

In order to prevent a collapse of the stock, Jobs should retire, making the transition of power inside the company less dramatic for Wall St. If, God forbid, something does happen to him while he is still CEO, the company may fall by more than 70 percent.

There is a chance this shift has already begun. For example, the iPad is not revolutionary at all, and has an awful name.

I do not believe Steve Jobs would mess up something as simple as the name, and much less build something of such little originality.

But this is the future of Apple without Jobs. We know what happened when Apple did not have him leading the way. He is simply an essential part of the company; otherwise they will become another Sony. The future of Apple looks blurry.