Five Things that Won’t Change When Steve Jobs Leaves

by Chris Seibold Jan 02, 2009

The rumors about the health of Steve Jobs are heating up again. Are the rumors true? It doesn't really matter because Steve Jobs won't be at Apple for the rest of eternity. Whether he leaves tomorrow or ten years from now he's still going to he won't be running Apple forever

For some folks, stock market people in particular, an Apple without Steve is very troubling. Steve is Apple and Apple is Steve or so the thought goes. That notion was true when Steve first returned to Apple, but is decidely less so now. After purging the board Steve was left with a bunch of execs who didn't see the world the same way Steve Jobs saw the world and Steve was somewhat hogtied by those around him

Ten years makes a big difference, the execs that Steve didn't like are long gone and replaced by execs who see the world the same way. Some of the ousted execs were entirely capable but since they didn't share Steve's view, they were replaced by someone who did. This isn't a surprise, when people hire folks they generally try to hire another version of themselves or at least someone who will make the same decisions as they would. Since Apple will be carrying the lessons of Steve after he departs here's a list of 5 things that won't change if Steve leaves even though you want them to

1) No $800 laptop or really cheap desktop machine

Mac users are desperate for Apple to release a really cheap computer. It seems like an obvious way to grab more market share and the common way of thinking is more market share=better. But Apple sells the company name as much as anything else. Selling a crappy computer doesn't do anything long term for the brand. And when you're selling a brand you have to be acutely aware of damaging the brand

Look at it from Apple's perspective for a moment. The company is already selling a record number of laptops at a profit that is the envy of the industry. The sales of Macs are growing faster than the sales of computers as an industry. Since Apple is outpacing the rivals where is the incentive to start cranking less profitable machines? Steve Jobs understands that business is all about profit, not all about who can whip out the biggest market share. You can bet the replacement will understand the lesson as well. If you want to see cheap consumer Macs you'll have to wait until sales start falling

2) A mid priced expandable tower

Every Mac geek out there screams for this machine and screams most loudly when it comes time to buy a new computer. They look around and realize that there's no way they need the power of a Mac Pro (and no way to justify the price) but they don't want to feel locked in to an iMac or something. Why, they moan, doesn't Apple make a machine for me? I want to be able to swap out the video card and really bump up the RAM.

If you're that guy time to shut your pie hole. The reason that Apple doesn't make that machine is because you, me, and about three other people really want it. Apple isn't in the business of making computers for people who feel like stripping them down and mucking with the motherboard, the company is in the business of selling computing solutions to people who don't want to mess with a computer. Face it, if you're willing to swap out a video card and add a hard drive you've got both the time and expertise to trick out a Linux box or really make Vista sing.

3) An unsucky Apple TV

You remember how much fun it was to rip your music into your computer back in the day right? Grabbing your CD collection and feeding disc after disc into your computer, digitizing all the music you owned, felt a little liberating. Once it was all in the machine (and you still haven't listened to some of those Red Hot Chili Peppers songs have you?) the songs weren't only backed up they were reburnable. You could take a blank CD and burn only the songs you wanted onto it. That process seemed pretty fantastic until the iPod came along and you could take all your music everywhere

Wouldn't it be great to do the same thing with DVDs? That was the initial promise of the Apple TV. But there were problems with the concept when applied to video. The first problem is that only children watch videos over and over while every person in the world will listen to Come on Eileen at least fifty times. The second problem is that it takes a long time to rip a movie. If your machine is slightly dated it can take tens of hours to rip a movie. That is a lot of effort to get Mr. Deeds onto Apple TV when you probably wouldn't watch it again if it showed up on USA

The real killer isn't the time or the questionable utility, the real problem is that you can't legally rip movies into your computer. If everyone was talking about ripping their DVD collection in and playing it on their Apple TV you'd do it to but since Apple  can't make that process easy or obvious the Apple TV will remain in the realm of suck no matter who next helms Apple

4) A renewed enterprise push

Apple makes the Xserve and pretends it cares about enterprise. But the company really doesn't, the reason Apple bothers with it at all is because it is easy. Sure, OS X  and Xserves are easy to deploy in an enterprise situation if you're determined to use Apple stuff but if you're not determined to use Apple stuff what is the point?

Enterprise isn't really concerned with ease of deployment or any of the stuff Apple is really good at. Enterprise is concerned with cheap. The biggest expense of for most corporations in it isn't the servers, it is the IT employees and those guys are smart enough to use anything. The next CEO of Apple knows this and won't bother with a big enterprise push, that person will happily reap the easily won profits of the current model

5) Mac Clone

Everyone wasn't on the same page as Steve Jobs when he came back to Apple but that didn't matter, the one thing Steve knew he could do without help (he signed the papers after all) was to kill the clones. If killing the clones back then was a good idea (it was) then licensing OS X now is the worst idea since Coke thought that replacing the classic formula was a winning strategy

The usual argument for licensing is more OS X on more computers. The usual argument against the idea is support problems and the advantages of tight hardware software integration. Those are idiotic arguments. Remember Steve Jobs rule number 1: profits

Now ask yourself if it would be more profitable in the long run for Apple to license OS X to another computer maker. The answer is clearly "no." There hasn't been the mass piracy of OS X that you would expect if the Mac's price was the thing holding people back from adopting OS X. Clearly it isn't that people who can't afford OS X are pining away for it it is that people are yearning for Macs. The idea that OS X would rule the world if only you could run it on that Dell you see in the Sunday magazine is misguided. The next leader of Apple knows this already and you can forget about seeing it happen soon after Steve Jobs leaves

Here's a bonus prediction about what you'll see when Steve Jobs leaves

A stronger push into consumer electronics.

The iPod was a smash and the iPhone has been the fastest selling product in the history of Apple. To imagine Apple won't keep pushing more and more deeply into that market is to expect a company to ignore its greatest successes. Steve Jobs says he is as proud of the things Apple doesn't make as the gadgets the company does make. The next CEO will want to make a big splash and will undoubtedly try to jump with both feet into some unApplish consumer electronic market. Let's hope the company can pull it off.


  • Apple will introduce a $799 laptop within the next three years.

    The original iBook was introduced at $1599 back in 1999.  By October 2001, in the last recession, there as a version introduced at $1199.  By November 2002, $999.

    The MacBook was originally introduced in May, 2006, at $1099 and held that price until the unibody revision ($1299) last October.  But the previous MacBook is now available at $999 (and now with a Superdrive instead of the previous “combo drive”).

    You can be certain that Apple is carefully watching for signs of price sensitivity between the old-style MacBook and the unibody MacBook.

    Combine Apple’s mostly downward price creep with a recession and mix in recollection of the iPod mini.  Apple eats its own young *before* anyone else has a chance.

    LCD prices have dropped through the floor, memory prices dug a hole under the basement, and CPU prices for the entry level device are dirt cheap.  4 GB can be had at retail for $40; Apple could simply solder 4 GB in and be done with it, no memory slots, no need to allow access to the memory, simpler design.  A 250 GB hard drive is under $50.

    If commodity prices continue in the current directions and if the market prices other laptops too ridiculously stupidly cheap, Apple will have a $799 produce sooner rather than later.  While holding the line on their profit margin.

    Besides, Steve Jobs said they didn’t know how to make a sub-$500 computer that wasn’t a piece of junk—he didn’t say nothing about $501, $599, $699, or $799. wink

    I wouldn’t even be surprised to see the original MacBook drop to $899 or $799 next week…  Particularly if they did a version for school districts with a slower CPU, no optical drive, no hardware graphics, and a smaller hard drive…  The kids might even call it the MacBook Slo. wink


    reinharden had this to say on Jan 03, 2009 Posts: 7
  • #2 and #4 have actually already happened, they’re just under the radar in the burgeoning (but admittedly still small) Hackintosh scene.  Apple has tacitly abandoned the enthusiast market to home-made clones, and quite a few highly-savvy (and/or highly patient) Mac OS fans have taken advantage of that opening.  Less technoid users are also getting into the act as very simple OS X installers for various netbooks are proliferating.

    Will Collier had this to say on Jan 03, 2009 Posts: 1
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