Granted, some aspects of these things did indeed take place right up until this week. There *is* a kernel of truth around which these ideas congeal; that said, most of these things are outdated notions which are rooted in the early days of Steve’s return to Apple when it was far more necessary to take a hands-on approach to steering the corporate ship.
In recent years, particularly since the 2001-2003 era, Jobs has been able to ease off somewhat and take a somewhat calmer, less intense approach to his role at Infinite Loop. Even in small, closed meetings at the Executive Suites, Steve is more of an everyday visionary leader and less of a whip-cracking taskmaster according to every source we’ve been able to talk to who is privvy to such matters.
Steve will always be Steve — that much is certain. Even sick and distracted from his normally laser-like focus on work, he has a level of vision and passion that can be seen in everything he does; he commands excellence, and over time, hardly needs to speak a word in order to encourage it in others. There are times when he still brings out the old fire & brimstone, but those times are fewer and farther between with each passing year we’re told.
So, while his absence will certainly impact Apple and the morale of its employees, we think that Cook and the rest of the team at the Executive Suites will have little trouble sustaining the momentum that Steve Jobs has created over the past twelve years.
One of the most exciting and remarkable periods of our own history here at Mac OS Rumors was in our second year; we were breaking more exclusive stories than ever before, and were just coming off the tremendous mainstream-media blitz which followed our successful, utterly exclusive, and accurate breaking of the rumor that Steve Jobs would soon take the captain’s chair from then-CEO Gil Amelio in a dramatic board room showdown.
We were in the midst of reporting on the development of the first version of Mac OS X, then called Rhapsody….and were posting sneak peeks into a new consumer Macintosh that would eventually become the iMac. Even with so much going on, our sources close to the Executive Suites were far more talkative about something completely non-technical — the incredible transformation that the company was undergoing, from within, at the hands of re-ascendant “iCEO” Jobs.
The results were soon seen as Rhapsody became Mac OS X, the iMac & iBook shipped, and the “Newton 2.0” shipped in the form of the iPod…..all seeds planted by Gil Amelio, but nurtured to their full flower by Steve Jobs.
The debate will no doubt continue, and some will no doubt say that the impact of Jobs’ absence can only be far greater than we predict; but we’ve been in the business of analyzing Apple from the inside for nearly 15 years now and if there is one thing we’re certain of, it is that the company has learned the lessons of those years well — they will not forget them now.
Such is the greatness that Steve has inspired in others; for that is his greatest talent and strength. His true, greatest value is not merely in his individual self…..but in what he brings out in the teams he leads. Now those teams must fly under their own power, but we are confident that they will do much more than merely continue as they have before; they will do things that they might not have been able to do in times any less uncertain or strangely inspiring.
Oddly enough, that is exactly what we have been hearing from some of our oldest and most highly placed sources at Infinite Loop; that despite the obvious reasons for concern, many there have found this to be a challenge that they are inspired to rise to meet. And meet it they will….in ways, we predict, that will surprise us all.