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Steve Jobs Is Leaving Apple?

Updated on January 18, 2011

If you ask the company the short answer is no. Steve Jobs is not leaving Apple. What he is doing is taking a leave of absence in order to focus on his health. You'll remember about a year ago that there was some question as to Steve's condition, and the company went out of its way to quell investor's sense that something might not be quite right with the man at the helm of the leading gadget maker, and second largest computer software company in the world. Those fears have come to fruition as the recent news was announced regarding Jobs' health, and while the trading exchanges were all closed in the US on Monday due to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, stocks still traded in the UK, including Apple's stock. As a result of the announcement, shares fell sharply, and the reason why really is no question.

Steve Jobs is Apple. At least in the eyes of investors, Steve Jobs is the mastermind of the world's neatest and newest toys. Without him, the vision that is Apple might go with him, some feel.

The long answer is that I think Steve Jobs may well be leaving Apple, and I think it is certainly something that investors in this company should prepare themselves for. The situation regarding his health may be much more serious than we have ever been lead to believe, and if you ask me, the announcement serves more to transition investors, in my opinion, for what is to come. Steve Jobs knows as well as anyone that there is a direct link between the performance of the company's stock and Steve Jobs himself. So, the wording of the announcement is sort of a saving of face of the Apple company, and the Apple vision, which has been linked to Steve Jobs from the start. The announcement, and the words "leave of absence" is to ease investors into the very real possibility that Apple may have to go on without Steve Jobs' inputs, and perhaps without Steve Jobs at all.

This leads me to a sidebar thought that investing in a man, rather than in a brand may not always be the best strategy. It may not also be a good thing for a company to put so much emphasis on "the man behind the curtain" either. Brands are forever. Men are not. And when the men go, then there is damage control that becomes necessary. This thought is a large part of the reason I've never owned a single share of Berkshire Hathaway's stock, although I must admit I've owned Apple shares more than once. There is no question that Warren Buffet is a masterful, and successful investor. He's been in and out of the number two position of richest men in the world for some time, and he even usurped Bill Gates for a short time one year. He made his money by making savvy investment choices over the years. He's one to follow, but Berkshire Hathaway is as much a Warren Buffet tracking stock as it is its own, stand alone family of companies. If Warren Buffet dies, or steps down, irregardless of the soundness of the underlying companies, and irregardless of standing projections of future growth and profits, all of these assumptions are factored according to the idea that Warren Buffet will be there to lead the way. The fututre performance of the company and value of the underlying stock will have to be reevaluated going forward according to the ability of someone else to fill Warren Buffet's shoes.

That same dynamic largely applies to Apple. Everything about Apple factors in the vision and enthusiasm, the creative and innovative thought processes for new gadgets and how those gadgets can be integrated into our daily lives, and entrepeneurial spirit of Steve Jobs. What investors will have to look for, going forward, is the ability of Apple to continue to dominate in its market, and to continue to be innovative and masterful in creating products that people want, and that connects consumers to nearly every aspect of their lives as Apple has been able to do in the past. If they can show that Apple can continue on without Steve Jobs, the company, and its stock, can go on as well.

So will Berkshire Hathaway go on after the departure of Warren Buffet. But this transition period to wait and see what happens next immediately after is what is important in turning the brand into a stand alone thing, without as much focus and attention on the man behind it. I think, however, because of the heavy emphasis on both accounts of the men who run these companies, that the light may never shine as bright without them, and it makes owning these stocks after the departure of the men more difficult and perhaps even less glamourous.

By the way, I wish Steve Jobs and his family, including the hard working people at Apple, all the best.

How successful, in the future, do you think Apple can be without Steve Jobs leading the way?

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    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I was glad to have been able to write it, and thanks for stopping by. My hope is that the company does well going forward, and suspect it may just do exactly that. Jobs knew well the direction he was headed, I think, and that means he probably did some preparation to ensure that Apple's vision could be continued on in some fashion. The team he has in place have a big pair of shoes to fill, though, that much is clear. You know, it would be interesting as well to see if Jobs didn't leave a cache of ideas behind for Apple to explore post Jobs.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      The genius who has changed the world has passed away. Such a tragic loss. I'm thankful for what Steve Jobs gave us. I love my iPod Touch and everything Apple! Thank you Steve! Thank you for the hub Springboard!

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I'm not sure that Jobs' departure IS priced in. Why all the quiet and secrecy if it were? The company would just come out and say, "Jobs is stepping down," and the stockholders would go, "Okay," and that would be the end of it. Doesn't seem to be the case. I think there is SOME pricing of the stock associated. But for the most part the price now assumes the mastermind stays onboard in at least some form, and I find that problematic from an investment perspective.

    • Gary Shorthouse profile image

      Gary Shorthouse 

      7 years ago from Reading, UK

      There is a lot of truth in both the article and the interesting comments, but don't you think that the Apple share price is already discounted by the market for the departure of Jobs?

      Apple is no longer the technology leader (the latest Android dual core 1.2 GHz processor smartphones demonstrate that) and the new iPhone 5 (when eventually it appears) is unlikely to leap ahead of Android phones despite the new Apple 5 processor (that is even thin if they can reduce the power consumption some more).

      Low power consumption 2GHz Quad processors using a 28 nanometer process are being produced by Samsung for the next generation smartphones which are far, far ahead of anything Apple has in the pipeline.

      The way forward for Apple to to quit its isolationist policy. If you can't beat them, then join them, and I feel that this eventually is what Apple must do or be left behind.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I agree. When you ARE the company, leaving does not bode well for the company. Again, look at Berkshire Hathaway as a glaring example. It's a great company. It's even a great stock. The guy running it is no doubt a master at investing and I trust his judgement almost 100% to lead the company and the stock in the right direction. The problem is that Warren Buffet IS Berkshire Hathaway and there can only be one Warren Buffet, just like there can only be one Elvis Presley, and one Michael Jackson, or one Babe Ruth if you want to change gears a bit. The recent debacle with the successor to Buffet's seat shows the tumultuous nature of too much association in this particular sort of case. When Buffet dies, the companies that are a part of Berkshire Hathaway continue. The viability of those companies continue. But the culture that is Berkshire Hathaway, which I think even contributes largely to the success of the company, it's Buffet's management style for example, weighs heavily into the numbers being good, and Buffet will take most his culture with him to the grave—much as Sam Walton took his culture to the grave with him and Walmart is a very different store now than I think Walton might have allowed it to go.

      Apple will suffer a loss with the loss of Jobs without a doubt, and his best effort now should be distancing himself from the core of Apple. He can do that by giving the creative genius accolades to the people of Apple, rather than himself. I think Bill Gates did that to a large extent with Microsoft, and overall I think that worked and continues to work today.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      This weekend, Jobs was described to be 'taking time away from his medical leave' to announce Apple's new cloud-based services. Watch out for Apple stock to plummet when he actually officially steps away.

      Bill Gates was the face of Microsoft to techies and industry experts, but Jobs represents Apple to mainstream consumers who don't know a byte from a bite.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      In the end it really does tie into how much of Steve Jobs is perceived to BE Apple. In the case of Microsoft, there is large separation and always has been. But in the case of Apple, Jobs seemed always to be the mastermind, if you will, of the goods. We'll see. :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 

      7 years ago from I'm outta here

      My guess is Apple has been doing well as a whole and Jobs leaving will have little to no impact on the company brand or success. Now that Apple is selling the iphone with Verizon I feel the rise in sells will be greatly increased as Verizon is a huge market and the timing of both is going to cause a slant in the actual impact of his leaving. Who's idea was that anyway?

      Great article and thanks for the information, rated up! :) Katie

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.

    • daravuthz profile image

      daravuthz 

      7 years ago from Cambodia

      Hi Springboard, you had done nice work. Its very interesting and nice.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Stars, thanks, and thanks for stopping by.

      Download, you're definitely right in the assessment that 10 years is a HUGE amount of time when we're talking tech. There's always that next big thing lurking right around the corner, and in this biz the giants never really remain the giants. The question may not be who will be the next Apple, but will Apple become the next IBM?

    • profile image

      Download Dave 

      7 years ago

      Jobs is indeed Apple: He maybe another CEO, but he's involved 24-7 with the brand and, he *believes* in the brand. How many other CEOs could say that, let alone even know what their company makes? Is this hands-on why investors are so spooked? As for the successor, stepping into a great man's shoes is one thing, filling them is quite another. Long term it might be a good thing if Jobs was to bow out gracefully; there's a lot of creative energy within Apple, which when unleashed could take the company into some new innovative areas. Or maybe after a decade, Apple's new leadership will be stuck producing more-of-the-overpriced-same, watching market share dwindle after the next big-thing came out of left field. A decade is a long time in technology - a good thing then that investors cannot even think ten days ahead? Wishing Steve Jobs great health.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 

      7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great information and interesting hub. GBY

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I definitely agree with the idea that "surely many of them are as technically the wizard as the founder." Steve Jobs is no dummy technically, that's for sure. But it does take a team IMO to figure out how to execute the vision and the ideas fully. As for the superiority of the Mac, I've never owned one either, but I think there is no question as to the quality of any of Apple's products. The PC won because of its affordability. Well that and you can't deny that Bill Gates was as much a business genius as he was a computer geek. He may not have invented the computer, but he did invent an easy way to use one...

      Even if it does crash every five minutes. ;)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      It's pretty amazing just how important one person can sometimes be, even when we are regarding such a large group of persons, and surely many of them are as technically the wizard as the founder.

      I hope he gets well, not because I've ever owned any of his products (I haven't) but because I do admire them, and so, I admire him. I'll come right out and say it, he's not the monopolizer that his "competition" is; and really, when it comes to pc vs mac, everyone knows that the mac is superior. . . and the price of them reflect that as well.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      As do I. Thank you for stopping in.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Well I wish him a speedt recovery and hopefully Apple will not go.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Springboard 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Pop, I absolutely agree with you that the whole of Apple is ultimately what makes it all happen. Some may argue, however, that when Jobs was ousted from the company in the 80s, the company slid into the doldrums. It took Jobs in the late 90s to return and take the company to the next level. All of the gadgets Apple is now famous for were dreamed up by Jobs. There have been some who have said that had Jobs not returned in 97 to Apple, the company may have fallen into obscurity. It will be interesting, nonetheless, to see how things play out going forward.

      Aya, if Apple were a band, Jobs might be considered the front man, and Wozniak the manager you never hear much about? Jobs has been the face of the brand for many years.

      Sunflowerbucky, astute observation. That could be a large reason for that little fact. :)

      BJB, definitely a planned announcement, and one that, like I said, I think serves to transition investors for what's to come. I think Jobs is gone for good because I think his health issues behind the scenes are far more serious than he or the company are letting on, or than they were letting on a year or so ago when a similar possibility came to the table. You'll remember he had a very deadly bout of pancreatic cancer a few years ago, and he's had numerous health issues since around 04 or so. If the company would have outright said "Jobs is calling it quits," it would have a more devastating effect on the movement of the stock price. Calling it a leave of absense buys the company some time to show that it can still function despite the absense of Jobs so that when a more permanent announcement is made it will be the hope that, by then, the possibility of an Apple without Jobs will already be well priced into the stock, and will not come as a shock to investors who figured this would be the end announcement anyway. Like I said, it will be interesting to say the least.

      Drbj, being that Jobs is the man behind most of the Apple products, I agree it will be difficult for future products to have quite the same glamour that Jobs was able to bring with them. We'll have to wait and see.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Much as I do not like to voice the thought, I'm afraid if Jobs goes, so goes Apple. Not that the company won't still be one to watch but many investors may not feel the same about the stock.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 

      7 years ago from USA

      I think it was a planned release of information. But that is business. I think for the average person like my self, I do not care if he is there or not. I just want any product I buy from them to work properly.

      Hope that he recovers from what ever is making him ill.

    • sunflowerbucky profile image

      sunflowerbucky 

      7 years ago from Small Town, USA

      I agree that investing in a man rather than a company is not wise. But then, we all know people make financial decisions with their hearts, not their brains, every day. (Perhaps a reason why many people are up to their eyeballs in debt). Interesting hub!

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      I thought that that Steve Wozniak contributed more to Apple than Steve Jobs.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      7 years ago

      Interesting article. I think investing in a single man lacks common sense. There are many talented people who make Apple's vision come true and they will still be there after Jobs leaves. I think the company may falter for a bit but then rebound. Their products are amazing.

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