With Steve Jobs no longer the CEO of Apple, one of the more pressing questions centers on how Apple will survive without Jobs’ active involvement in the company. This, however, misses the point. Over the past few months, Tim Cook has been Apple’s acting CEO while Steve Jobs was busy tending to his medical issues. In other words, Tim Cook has arguably been Apple’s CEO for some time now and Jobs’ new role as Apple’s chairman will essentially be the same role he’s already been playing since taking a medical leave back in January, 2011.
Robert X Cringely writes:
And now we have Jobs’ resignation. But he’s not going away, not signing-up for Apple COBRA benefits, just giving up to Cook his duties as CEO. Jobs will remain an Apple employee and chairman of the board. That makes him what’s called an executive chairman — one who is on the job every day. And that job he’ll be doing every day is overseeing Tim Cook’s execution of the corporate strategy designed by Steve Jobs.
This looks to me like Cook continuing to function in his Chief Operating Officer role. Oh he’ll get a big raise and an even bigger bonus, but my sense is that next week the guy really in charge will still be Steve Jobs. And the Apple board, satisfied that the succession question has been answered and their own fiduciary asses are covered (I suspect this is a big part of it) can go back to sleep.
Now as for Apple’s fortune once Jobs is completely out of the picture, well, that’s an entirely different discussion. In the meantime, we can only assume that Jobs, whose health is reportedly prone to fluctuation, will remain as involved with Apple as he’s been over the past couple months – that is to say actively involved with Apple’s product strategy.
Just three weeks ago a report claimed that Jobs still talks regularly with Apple’s top executives and though he may not show up to Apple’s Cupertino HQ every day, he still maintains an active role of involvement and influence from his home.
“They tell me he calls in regularly, he talks to Tim, he talks to the top guys, he talks about the Apple Stores,” said Bajarin. “But while he used to micromanage everything in ways that most CEOs would not, right down to issues with the company cafeteria, the big change with his latest leave is that there’s less micromanagment and more management of his executive team and the big-picture issues.”
We can only hope that Jobs continue to give pancreatic cancer a run for its money and will be able to continue doing the work he loves doing for a long time.