Steve Leaves – What’s Next

A predictable but still sad day for Mac followers has finally occurred. Either due to health issues or inability to rally from the impact of his previous health issues, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple. In the history of American business, Jobs’ impact at Apple is somewhere in the realm of Henry Ford or Walt Disney. I’ll leave it for others better qualified to recount his amazing and often contradictory life (MoD will certainly be buying the biography coming out in November)

I won’t go into any speculative detail into the ominous reason that we all thought, resignation as pre obit. Hopefully Steve has many more wonderful years with his family left.

Presuming no health crisis, why resign now?

It’s obvious Steve’s state of health won’t allow him to return full time in the same way he was before. Steve is not a guy of half measures or half attempts. The decision was probably as simple as his public statement sounds. He cannot be the old Steve, and nothing less is acceptable. In pure speculation, Steve has been rumored to be in China helping to finalize some carrier deals. That level of travel may have highlighted that Steve’s health will never return to pre transplant levels. Steve may have also realized that Tim Cook needed to be the real CEO to have the real power to negotiate these deals.

It could be as simple as now is the right time to move on. Apple’s about to have a huge media event announcing the next iPhone. If the rumors are close, this could be the biggest launch since the iPhone 3G. The iPad is crushing folks. The MacBook Air is selling out. iOS 5 is almost finished. The Retina screen iPad 3 seems to be deep in final development for an early 2012 release. The new HQ is planned and approved. Apple is rolling in every segment, so it is best equipped to absorb the hit of Steve leaving his CEO role right now.

What’s the immediate product impact? Very little.

Somewhere at the secret Top 100 meeting this year (or last year)  a road map of where Steve wants to take the next generation of iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc was presented. At Apple HQ right now, there are mockups/prototypes of the iPhone 7 and the iPad 4. In addition, there’s probably a road map for brand new products for the next 2 or 3 years.

In the deciding the product lineup,  Steve says No to a lot of projects. This discipline in saying No is now built into Apple’s DNA. Steve is also a master of saying No, but come back to me when we can do X. The iPad and iPhone are classic Steve examples of saying Not Ready Yet. Steve kept telling his guys to work on the projects until the right pieces were ready. Touchscreens, powerful energy efficient microprocessors, cheap solid state memory, battery technology improvements are examples of outside innovations that Apple used with their in house innovations. Like most pundits, MoD thinks Apple will do something evolutionary with the TV, and it will seem obvious and easy and make the TV as interconnected as the iPhone and iPad. Apple has prototypes right now that are Not Ready Yet. The designs are missing a piece of tech, not responsive enough, or are too expensive right now to source and build. And I think as long as Steve is healthy enough, he will continue to be a final product sanity check indicating readiness to go into production or that a product needs more time to bake. He just won’t be so intimately involved in every possible decision and facet of product design. It could be this change in work load can extend Steve’s influence at Apple by a significant number of years, and that change was the decisive reason for Steve stepping down.

So beyond the new product roadmap at Apple, Steve has doubtlessly laid a Not Ready for Prime Time road map. The Newton is an obvious example of a product being too far ahead of the technology available. This list probably goes out ten years plus in terms of innovations and new ideas. This future road map has a list of key benchmarks for  improvements in displays, battery life, memory storage, processor speed, lightweight materials, etc. and connected to those improvement targets are a list of new Apple products. Wonder when you will have a Minority Report like display from Apple? Just wait, Apple has all the pieces to make it happen it just needs display and multi-touch technology to improve.

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