So by now everyone knows that Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence from Apple for the second time due to medical reasons. The first time this happened it was a mess, Jobs kept his condition a secret from just about everyone and both Jobs and Apple’s stock paid the price. This time around it seems that Jobs has learned from the past and got out in front of this thing. To me that shows his growth and that he is finally starting to understand that as a CEO with fragile health, one of his biggest jobs now is to do what is in the best interest of the company.
For all of this though, both average consumers and analyst are predicting doom. Personally, I think that they are all overreacting. If this was a few years ago, I might not think so but Apple has come a long way. Even though they might make it seem like all of Apple’s innovation is the brainchild of Jobs, the truth is that just isn’t true. In reality, Apple has some of the best and brightest minds in the world and while Jobs may be the catalyst behind a lot of what they do, he isn’t the only one. As Apple has seen its fortunes improve over the last decade, they have really only made one misstep and that is allowing people to believe that one man, no matter how great, is bigger than the company itself. Whether people know it or not, I think that Jobs has actually done a great job of positioning Apple for life without him. By immediately identifying Tim Cook as the man to take over day-to-day operations they avoided any unnecessary controversy. Jobs even sent Cook to the Verizon iPhone announcement in his place, normally Jobs doesn’t miss major things like this.
What does it all mean? It means that I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Jobs never returned to take over day-to-day operations of Apple. I could see him moving into the kind of role that Bill Gates now enjoys at Microsoft, still with a ton of influence on strategy and design, just not the guy making all the daily decisions. To be honest, Steve Jobs stepping away for a bit may be the best thing to happen to the company since he came back and rescued the company from the brink of extinction. If Apple can successfully launch some new products and maintain their current momentum while Jobs is away then perhaps the market will finally start to believe that Apple can survive without him. Maybe.