The iconic leader of Apple will be taking another leave of absence due to medical reason.
I realize that we are all replaceable. Jack Welsh left GE, they seem to be doing fairly well. Bill Gates slowly diminished himself in the world of Microsoft and they still churn out massive amounts of cash every quarter. Bill Clinton could not run for a 3rd term and…never mind. Companies, countries and organizations can survive and do thrive after an iconic leader moves on. However, no company embodies its leader as does Apple. Jobs’ influence on the direction and strategy of Apple is legendary. The iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV and all the other products that Apple has churned out have Jobs’ fingerprints all over them. One might argue that Apple has developed its own momentum and could finally be able to thrive without their founder leading the charge.
I am not so certain. I think that Apple, while enjoying incredible success recently, might be heading into some rough waters ahead. Google and the Droid operating system are a real threat in the smart phone world. The Droid operating system is device agnostic so unlike the iPhone can be sold via a wide host of handsets. The aforementioned Microsoft seems to want to reassert themselves in the mobile game with their new Windows 7 phone. On the tablet side there are a number of manufacturers looking to take a piece of iPad pie: Blackberry, Toshiba, Dell as well as the Kindle and Nook are all looking to own a part of the tablet market. No doubt iPad is the clear leader, but there are some serious challengers on the horizon. Finally the battle for the home is only beginning. With Apple TV and iTunes, clearly Apple wants to own the content that goes to you shiny new 50inch LED HDTV. Then again so does Google – Google TV, Sony with their TVs and the PS3 system, Microsoft with the XBox and Kinect, as well as all the set top manufacturers with their DVRs.
Steve Jobs has been able to keep Apple ahead of these competitors, nothing short of amazing. Without him at the helm will Apple keep up this momentum? Not sure. This next year will be vital for Apple – ver 2 of the iPad, iPhone 5 and the push for Apple TV. Without a strong, visionary leader in place Apple might not be able to enjoy the success they have come to expect under Jobs.
I would hope that Apple has put in place a plan of succession for leadership, groomed or identified who will keep Apple going. Time will tell.
We are all replaceable, but when it comes to Apple, Jobs might be more difficult to find a replacement than in other organizations.
The worst kept secret was finally unveiled earlier this year, that Apple will be selling the iPhone via Verizon in addition to their long standing relationship with AT&T. This has unleashed a deluge of commentary and mockery of AT&T’s network ability to handle the iPhone and the data overload the smartphone has unleashed.
As has been pointed out, AT&T stands to lose disgruntled customers to Verizon. There is not doubt this news will give Verizon a boost – they are already seen as the carrier with superior coverage to AT&T, the addition of the popular iPhone coupled with their stable of other smartphones will make for 2011 to be a good year for Verizon. Yet might this move be a silver lining for AT&T?
The iPhone has clearly given AT&T a big boost in terms of sales and customers, being the only provider of the Apple product has made those of us who want an iPhone entrenched with the carrier. As the Jon Stewart piece points out, it also created a back lash from those customers. AT&T has never been able to catch up to the data demand the iPhone has created. Could losing some of these clients from the network actually make the service for those of us still on AT&T actually better? If, as some report, we could see close to 4 million users gravitate to Verizon that would remove that kind of strain on the AT&T network that we have all groan accustomed to and had to deal with grudgingly. In addition, the arrival of another competitor being able to sell the popular device will force AT&T to make some investments and decisions to ensure they keep and attract iPhone users.
In the short term AT&T will take a hit and Verizon will leverage the ability to sell the iPhone 4 to build on their market position. I hope in the long term this move will make the AT&T experience better for those of us still using the iPhone on their network. Otherwise once my contract expires I might port my number and iPhone to Verizon.
So I was away this past week, in a land where I do not require my usual Starbucks since the “regular” coffee I can get is what my Starbucks is trying to imitate. Regardless I was still reminded of my favorite local “coffee shop” when they boldly unveiled a new logo. What surprised many was the fact the words coffee no longer appear on the new sleek design, the company name also is absent from the logo. Hmmm. Makes you wonder what Starbucks is up to.
Has their brand name become so synonymous with overpriced coffee that they can remove all text and assume that users will always know that the green mermaid is dispensing hot water and ground up cocoa beans? Unlike McDonalds who also had a similar logo change where they dispensed with words and just kept the golden arches…which is a letter…the green mermaid is not necessarily an icon we easily associate with coffee. Shell gas also removed all text from their logo…then again their logo is a simple….yellow shell.
Removing the word coffee from the logo might be a sign that Starbucks is looking to expand their offerings. That makes sense. With the likes of McDonalds offering “premium coffee” as well as regular competitors such as Petes and Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks has felt the heat from the coffee machines. Over the past few years they have slowly started to expand their food offerings. Could the removal of the “coffee” from the logo be an indicator that they will move into more food offering or even other beverages such as premium alcohols? But removing the corporate name, that still does not make 100% sense to me nor others.
Has the logo become so iconic? Not sure. Few logos, other than sports teams, have that muscle. Target’s logo is just a simple red target, that works, but they are not really a global brand. Apple’s logo is a simple silver…apple. That has become a global icon, but the logo is the fruit that give the company its name! The reworking of a logo is a business occurrence, but sometimes forgetting to include the name is not a good strategic or marketing decision. Then again maybe the green mermaid has more cache than I give her credit for.
Happy belated new year to all. May 2011 be happy, prosperous and safe.