Who Will Save Apple If Steve Leaves? Meet The Dream Team

The last decade has been rough for the world’s most iconic CEO. In 2004, it was discovered that Jobs had pancreatic cancer. He underwent several treatments and Tim Cook took over operations while Steve began a successful recovery. By the end of 2008, Jobs was taking another health related leave of absence and received a liver transplant in April of 2009.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Steve has once again made an announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence to focus on his health. As the world wonders how long Jobs can possibly continue in his fractured state, we can’t help but be concerned not only about his well being, but that of the company that he has dedicated his life to building.

What will Apple be like in a post-Steve era? Can it continue its seemingly never-ending winning streak or will it take a turn for the worst like it did when Steve was booted out in the 80s?

A Brief History Lesson

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Jobs and Gates

Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc. in his garage in 1976 in partnership with Steve Wozniak. He built the company from literally nothing into a pioneering force in personal computing. By the mid 80s, Apple had begun a downward spiral and CEO John Sculley, who was actually a Jobs recruit, ousted Steve from his beloved company altogether.

This proved to be a great move for Steve as it allowed him to pursue the creation of another company, NeXT, which developed the software that would eventually be molded into OS X. By 1996, Apple was buying NeXT and bringing Jobs back in as interim CEO.” The interim part of his title didn’t last long as Jobs embarked on a crusade of colored iMacs and iPod music players that would catapult Apple into the huge success that it is today.

There’s no doubt that Steve Jobs is the heart and soul of Apple, and the last time he left it wasn’t so great for the company. Fortunately, whenever Steve decides to officially step down as CEO, I think we’ll be in good hands this time around.

Prepping Us For The Inevitable

For years, Steve has been the infamous face of Apple, in large part due to his frequent and energized keynote speeches, which are always announcing some new and exciting future for the company.

However, a few years ago I noticed a definite shift in Apple’s one man show. Instead of letting Steve take both the glory and criticism, other faces began making repeated appearances. Apple product launches coincided with promotional videos narrated not by Steve, but instead a small group of men that it seems Apple wanted us to get to know.

Jony Ive

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Jony Ive

Ive is a rockstar, no doubt about it. This Jason Statham lookalike hails from London and has been leading the Apple Design team since 1996 (notice that’s about when Apple products started looking cool). We’d all like to picture Jobs fashioning each product design himself from magic clay, but in reality Ive is probably the biggest force behind Apple’s ever imitated but never replicated top-notch design.

Ive just oozes “cool” so Apple has been plastering his face on everything they can get away with.

Phil Schiller

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Phil Schiller

Phil is Apple’s “Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing,” so a lot of Apple’s personality can be attributed to how Phil has seen fit to market the products. You can see Phil getting a lot of face time on stage at Apple events in the place where Steve traditionally stands.

He’s definitely another driving force in the way that we perceive the company, not to mention the success of ad campaigns like the long-running Mac vs. PC commercials that we all loved.

Another key player in this area that you should know is Greg Joswiak, the VP of iPhone Marketing.

Scott Forstall

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Scott Forstall

Forstall has had his fingers in everything we love about Apple. He was one of the designers behind OS X’s famous Aqua interface and is of course the genius behind the iPhone’s UI and world-changing app system.

He’s now the Senior Vice President of iPhone Software and therefore the man I should be thanking for my job as editor of an iPhone-driven website. The iPhone may have been a long-time dream of Steve Jobs, but this guy made it a reality.

Bob Mansfield

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Bob Mansfield

Let’s not forget that Apple isn’t all about iPhones, iPads and iPods! The Macs we know and love have seen huge success in recent years, and it’s probably Bob’s fault.

As the Senior Vice President of Macintosh Hardware Engineering, Bob is the guy who gave us little things like the iMac and MacBook Air. Rest assured that the Mac department is in good hands with this Bob at the helm.

Tim Cook

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Tim Cook

Tim Cook doesn’t make an appearance in most of those Apple product promotional videos, but he’s definitely the most important member of this team. You can see him taking the stage frequently in Steve’s absence, most notably in Verizon’s recent iPhone announcement.

Cook is Apple’s Chief Operating Officer and everyone’s favorite pick for Steve’s successor as CEO. He is a major part of the success of the Apple retail stores, which are in turn one of the biggest components of Apple’s rise to fame. He also heads up the Mac division and is the guy Bob Mansfield reports to.

As an indication of Cook’s importance and the loftiness of his role, take into account that this is the man Steve puts in charge when he leaves (meaning Cook is in the driver’s seat now). Get used to the name Tim Cook, because it will no doubt be synonymous with Apple sometime soon.

Closing Thoughts

I neither expect nor hope that Steve has seen the last of his days as CEO of Apple Incorporated. However, I am confident that whether he’s the CEO or not, the success of Apple will be high on his list of priorities. Jobs has spent a lifetime building the company that we know and love and he’s not about to let it tank upon his absence.

Which is why he wants us to know that he has placed key figures in high places. The team above represents just a tiny portion of the huge amount of talent Apple keeps in Cupertino and elsewhere. As you can see by reading the brief bios above, most of these guys have spent over a decade creating the products that we use every day while we sit under the illusion that Jobs single handedly runs Apple and personally designs every aspect of every product.

The real value of Steve Jobs lies in his unmatchable leadership. The ability of this harsh and wise dictator to not only predict, but create the future is one that will not easily be duplicated by any successor. Jobs has steered Apple in no direction but forward in the past decade and I hope Cook and the gang can likewise succeed in the long-term as much as I know they will in the short-term.

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts about the future of Apple. Healthy or not, Steve won’t be around forever and the confidence of customers like you will be the deciding factor in Apple’s continuing success. Will Apple go on just fine without Jobs or should we prepare for the early 90s all over again?

Jobs/Gates image source: Wikimedia