More than likely, Apple has at least a few years of innovation and product plans up its sleeve that were initiated by Steve Jobs during his tenure. After that time, the company will definitely need “some visionary/charismatic individual to take the helm.”
This is the view of one NotebookReview forum member who shared his perspective on the passing of Steve Jobs and the impact on the company he co-founded. “Though Steve Jobs is not there, his personality is part of Apple now, so some of it will always remain,” notes forum member aredkid. Steve Jobs handpicked new CEO Tim Cook for a reason, he added, and he knew very well what that selection would mean for Apple down the road. “I believe it is for Apple to certainly change, but grow nonetheless, with a flavor of Steve Jobs.”
“I don’t think there is going to be much change at Apple,” posts NBR forum member kornchild2002. “It has been turned into a well -oiled machine that will take a mighty force to push off of its current track. Apple has done a lot this year with the iPad 2 (which was an even bigger success than the first one), OS X Lion, spec bumps in their various Mac lines with newer Intel hardware, iOS 5, development and implementation of iCloud, and so on.”
A Question of Loyalty
Others in the forums were not so positive about Apple’s future innovation track record sans Jobs. “It seems as though there have been no standout ‘innovations’ in the last 12 months or so,” writes writes wally33, a consultant on the NotebookReview discussion forums. “Apple is now arguably only just keeping up, if not behind in the smartphone market after the release of the iPhone 4s. With everyone expecting an iPhone 5, the people will only wait so long for Apple to begin releasing more of the products we are so used to before changing their loyalty to other manufacturers … Perhaps soon their only selling point will be OSX and an aesthetic design.”
“I haven’t noticed any major changes to Apple over the last year,” points out masterchef341, another NBR forum member. “They weren’t ever being constantly massively innovative. They had the iPhone in ’07 and the iPad in ’10. They released some interesting software in the meantime. It’s ’11 now. We’ve got an iOS style app store on Mac OS X. We’ve got some cloud computing going on. I’m not sure how much innovation you expect.”
This forum member goes on to pan the recently-released iPhone 4S, noting that it took a lot of time to debut and when it did was a very modest revision. He does admit, however, that the iPhone 4S does have “the fastest processor you can cram into a phone” and had remarkable screen resolution. In the end, though “I think their next big thing will be to convince everyone to buy an Apple TV.”
Tuning into Apple Future
This observation may not be too far from the mark. Buried within a Steve Jobs biography published after his death is the revelation that soon after iCloud as developed and announced, Jobs had set his sights on an Apple television. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud,” he is quoted as saying.
For business users, highly mobile device are all about the email. “There were never more than a few dozen hundred BB (Blackberry) apps even in the heyday,” says rOk, a Brighthand forum member. “At my office, more and more BB users are trading them in for Androids. The company still won’t buy an iPhone, but they will buy either a BB or an Android. If you bring your own phone, they’ll allow you to mess up your iPhone with their Exchange crap.”
In the end, though, it may be Steve Jobs legacy as well as the passion a lot of people have for Apple that will keep the company on the path of innovation over the next two to five years, which is a lifetime in the mobile industry.
“How Apple copes and morphs with these changes will determine Tim Cook’s performance and Apple’s adherence to Steve Jobs’ legacy of taking the self-assured lead and not the back seat,” adds NBR forum member aredkid. “We’ll just wait and see. That’s the exciting part!”
Judy Jefferson is a freelance technology writer based in Boston