Last week saw the death of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. His death has brought in many tributes from friends, admirers and commercial enemies alike. Touchingly, Google, whose phone operating system Android is Apple’s long standing rival, displayed a tribute to Jobs on their home page with the words “Steve Jobs, 1955-2011” under the search box with a link directly to the Apple homepage.
In the week following his death I’ve come across many articles about the notorious Apple CEO, some describing his extraordinary talent and vision whilst others describe his obstinate and intimidating nature, his ruthlessness, how he was a bully in the work place. Good or bad, however, all agree on one thing – Steve Jobs was a man who brought us technology which changed the world.
Whilst Jobs was not necessarily the mastermind behind the technology, he was able to simplify it for the masses. He made technology easy and available to us all from the simple grid app system on the iPhone and the slick iPad, both of which were copied widely.
One question that has been asked over and over again is what the impact on Apple will be without Jobs at the helm. Whilst there is no doubt that Jobs was a brilliant individual, personally I questioned just how involved Job’s was in the creation process. In a company like Apple there must be a huge number of people involved in the production of the iPod, iPhone & iPad, so just how crucial was the role that Jobs played?
Many have disputed the theory that Jobs was just a figure head brought out for the product launch show and tell with many testifying his heavy involvement in bringing the creations to life. Google’s Vic Gundotra tells an interesting story about how Steve phoned him up one Sunday because he was concerned that one of the letters in the Google logo on the iPhone screen was the wrong shade of yellow.
I think the most likely answer is that Jobs’ role was his vision & concept behind the products which others then brought it to life under his eagle eye. This being so, what sort of impact will his death have upon the company going forward. It has been rumoured that Jobs had left “blueprints” for future products ensuring that his stamp will be on Apple products for years to come.
With or without blueprints, I think that the company’s ability to produce brilliant products is under no risk. However, will the lack of Steve Jobs have any impact on how consumers will view the brand?
Steve Job’s persona has been a valuable asset to the company- the image of a genius masterminding inventions beyond anything previously imagined. But has this reliance on Steve’s image turned into a poisoned chalice now that he is no longer here?
One of my colleagues suggested that perhaps people might feel more sympathetic to the brand after Jobs’ death, and will be more inclined therefore to purchase Apple products.
Certainly with the announcement of the upcoming release of the iPhone 4S, Apple has gotten a lot of column inches in the last week keeping it in the forefront of people’s minds. And as the old saying goes “all press is good press”.
On the other hand one could argue that the disappointment around the lack of iPhone 5, coupled with the new Apple CEOs lacklustre performance at the announcement, and the failures in ios 5, could add to the view of the brand being devalued by Job’s death.
Personally I don’t think that Jobs’ death will have a big affect on how people view the brand or how successful future products will be. I’d heard of Apple long before I knew who Steve Jobs was.
I myself have no particular loyalty to a brand, having an iPod, a HP laptop and Android phone. But there will always be the devout Apple worshippers, those who queue outside the shop for days before each release. They won’t be deterred. Most people though just appreciate great products and as long as Apple continues to bring them out, they look set to stay at the top of the game for a long time to come.