updated 08:40 pm EST, Thu January 15, 2009
Apple without Mr Jobs
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Steve Jobs' announcement that he will be taking a six-month medical leave of absence, many analysts are still confident that the company will persevere while the company's COO, Tim Cook, holds the reins. The number-two executive is not unfamiliar with covering for the iconic CEO, having lead the company while Jobs underwent his initial surgery in 2004 that treated a rare form of pancreatic cancer.
"He's one of those guys who just gets things done," said Tim Bajarin, head of Creative Strategies, according to Businessweek. "But he's been with Steve long enough that he knows how he thinks. He's been working for years with this steady mantra of, 'What would Steve do?' And then whatever he decides, he puts solid business principles behind it."
"Steve is the visionary," said an anonymous former employee. "Tim is the guy who makes trains run on time." Cook is credited with driving the company's gross margins up to 28 percent in 1999, from 19 percent in 1997, while gaining profit despite declining sales numbers.
Despite speculation that Jobs' health was worse than he admitted, his most recent announcement was still perceived as a curveball by many, if just because of the timing. "I was a little surprised," Van Baker of Gartner said to Computerworld. "But I don't think there's any subterfuge or deception here. Clearly, [Jobs' health] is a moving target, and after interacting with his doctors, [he] decided that it was more complicated than he thought."
The situation could easily change if the CEO requires more than six months to recover, or if his health conditions decline. "Apple can clearly execute, so if Jobs is able to do what he says and come back in June full-bore, the effect will be zero," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. "I don't think he was [running] day-to-day [operations] for quite some time anyway," added Baker. "But if he doesn't come back in June, then there will be some impact."