Apple’s Going Down

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Wanted New CEO: Company well respected, well funded, loyal customers and employees. Candidate must be good at demonstrations.

Wanted New CEO: Seeking desirable candidate to replace one of the greatest CEOs in history. Corporation has gone from near bankruptcy to most valued company in the world. Candidate must be absolutely perfect.

Today it was announced that Steve Jobs is retiring – to remain as the chairman, but CEO no more.

First, congratulations to Steve. I am surprised he has hung out as long as he did. Clearly his passion about the company and his personal mission were best served at the helm of his amazing ship. There are not that many CEO’s that keep their jobs that long. There are not that many CEOs that we have seen grow-up and there are not that many CEOs that have impacted our individual lives like Steve Jobs.

There have been few details about his health, and I wish him the best. Steve is an amazing and brilliant person and deserves the best in retirement. I sincerely hope is post life post Apple is long and healthy.

But when Apple assures us that it is no big deal, they are lying. What else can they say? The fact is Steve was one in a million. That isn’t even right, Steve has done the extraordinary and replacing him will be impossible.

Steve doesn’t follow or copy, he leads in ways that only seem perfectly clear with hindsight. He actually does everything wrong based on the mainstream, but then proves his approach to be right. For example, Jobs announced new retail stores right when retail was showing signs of doom. Amazon was showing the new way with infinite virtual shelf space. Retail outlets were generally failing due to Internet competition and computer related retail was especially hard hit since the high tech were early adopters to online shopping. Gateway had nearly run into bankruptcy with its retail attempt. But Jobs says retail and proves it can be successful. I remember hearing about the “Genius Bar” for the first time – free tech support? yeah right.

Steve took on DOS with MacOS (and won – though it was called Windows). He took on Disney with Pixar (and won), he transformed the music industry with both the iPod and iTunes, he took on the established cell phone market and created a new norm, he pushed manufacturing and created sexy computers (yes computers). The list is long, impressive, and extensive.

I don’t mean to write his eulogy.

I mean to suggest that Apple’s days as the most valuable company in the world are numbered. It won’t happen fast, and in fact, Apple is probably a good buy if there is a sell off tomorrow. Obviously there is a pipeline of product and customers are highly loyal.

When Bill Gates left Microsoft we were assured Ballmer was fine, and it was for quite some time. But even with Bill as Chairman Microsoft has sputtered and missed countless key opportunities. Vista was Ballmer. These are not companies with plug and play CEOs. Some CEOs are legends and we had one with Steve.

Dave Michels