No One Questioned Microsoft's Viability When Gates Left…
What Apple might do if CEO Steve Jobs does not return from his medical leave of absence and how the company would fare without him have been the subject of much jawing this past week. And not without good reason. Wednesday’s announcement was certainly a stunner–one that shook Apple investors to the core of their timid little hearts.
Apple (AAPL) has portrayed itself over the past decade as a company gloriously resurrected by a single man. And now that that man is ailing, the company is paying the price. But the fact of the matter is that Apple has never, EVER, been in a stronger position that it is currently. And while it will always be better off with Jobs as its leader, his absence doesn’t suddenly make it as if the iPhone or the iPod or the Mac never happened.
Someday, someone will take over for Jobs–the company OBVIOUSLY has a succession plan; it’s just not willing to share it at this point– and while there be a major upheaval in Apple’s share price, there won’t be one in its operations or performance. Certainly, that’s the opinion of many of the analysts who cover the company.
“A lot of people think Jobs is responsible for every single decision made at Apple,” says Gartner analyst Van Baker. “The reality is that’s not true. Just go down the executive line. He’s got a very competent team there.”
J.P. Morgan Securities’ Mark Moskowitz agrees:
“In our view,” Moskowitz said in a recent research note, “[Apple COO Tim] Cook and the other members of the Apple management suite have played a critical role in monetizing the vision and mandates of Mr. Jobs in recent years. Here, we do not expect any changes during this difficult period, and we expect the R&D pipeline to remain robust.”
As does Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves:
“You’re getting a company that is a leader in smartphones, that has been gaining share in the PC market and probably continues to do so,” says Hargreaves. “It’s dominant in digital media and has a very talented management team regardless of whether Steve Jobs is there or not.”
And Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu as well.
“The fact of the matter is that Apple has become an institution, a culture, that transcends more than one individual,” Wu told Reuters. “… If you look at Apple’s growth prospects compared to a lot of these other companies, it’s arguably the most promising….The fundamentals haven’t really changed. Apple still has big competitive advantages. We think a lot of the innovation, a lot of his style, his thinking, a lot of that has been ingrained into the company’s DNA.”
You’d think that after all these years, that’d be the case. Just as it has been the case at other iconic companies. When Bill Gates ceased his day-to-day involvement at Microsoft (MSFT), the company didn’t suddenly grind to a screeching halt.
No one questioned the company’s continued viability either.