Entering the post-Jobs era

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7 October 2011 | 0

Earlier this week I wrote about the muted iPhone 4S presentation, perhaps we now know why that was the case. Absent was the big show, the triumphalism, the whooping from the audience that so often accompanied a Jobs keynote; This was a sober, factual approach that asserted the strength of the company through statistics and projections; more method that madness, process over precociousness.

With a background in logistics, Cook is not a countercultural icon and no one expected him to produce a barnstorming performance, but it has to be wondered how much he and his co-presenters – president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller and iOS head Scott Forstall – knew about their former CEO’s health. The absence of live video feeds, criticised vehemently on Twitter, could have been a protective move to control the flow of information about the company’s ailing co-founder. If nothing else, it took pressure off Cook and gave some latitude to cut the event short if required.

Based on the declining share price over the past few days the market seems to think Jobs and Apple are one and the same entity. A lukewarm response to the iPhone 4S followed by Jobs’ passing has taken about 1% off the share price, but this jitterish response shows how little people seem to understand about the Apple dynamic. Jobs was a visionary, but a large part of that was getting other people to make things happen. Losing him does not necessarily remove any of the Apple ‘magic’, it introduces the team that made things happen for him. Just because you know how something works does not negate one’s appreciation for it. In this way knowing a little more about the Apple process won’t harm the company any more than Jobs’ three leaves of absence since 2004 did.

Cook’s problem will not be selling the iPhone 4S – the Chinese market alone will ensure that will not be a problem – it’s what arrives in three or four years time that will define his contribution.

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