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What are the challenges for a post-Jobs Apple?

Is Steve Jobs replaceable?

Mr. Jobs announced his resignation Wednesday after markets closed and recommended chief operating officer Tim Cook take over as CEO. Mr. Jobs leaves after sheepherding Apple over the past decade to the top of the consumer electronics world. The company is in great condition with loads of cash in the bank, a proven product cycle and a history of innovation.

Yet some analysts and experts remain concerned. Steve Jobs in not the whole company, but like few other CEOs his vision, ability to make decisions that often prove to be sage and profitable and loyalty he commands are unlikely to be replicated.

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Join us at 9 am this morning for a live discussion on Apple's future under Tim Cook with Atlanta-based tech analyst Jeff Kagan. Mr. Kagan is a columnist and author and has been following the tech industry for more than 25 years.

"It will be interesting to watch the transition of the company, with a new leader, and the next generation of Apple," Mr. Kagan wrote Wednesday on his blog after the announcement.

Mr. Kagan will be online for about an hour.



Update: Here's a transcript of the live discussion:



9:01

Michael Snider - Good morning Jeff and thanks very much for joining us. I suppose it's not a huge shock that Jobs is stepping down as CEO but one thing you mentioned last night on your blog post -- you asked if there's a Steve Jobs premium. Is there? Is Apple suddenly a different company this morning?

9:02

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

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Good Morning Michael. It is my pleasure to be here with you this morning.

9:03

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Yes in some ways Apple is a completely different company this morning, but in other ways it is exactly the same. Let me explain.

9:04

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

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The iPad, iPhone, iPod maker is still there just like before. This move from Steve Jobs was expected at some point. The question is what comes next.

9:04

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The company has loads of customers who line up the night before to get the next version because Apple has a very unique relationship with customers.

9:05

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The Apple relationship is what every other company would love to have, but don't. Apple is an incredible success story, but only few other companies have the same connection.

9:06

Michael Snider - How much of that success is the result of the guy leaving?

9:07

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Can new CEO Tim Cook continue that unbeleiveable level of connection with the customer or will that disappear with Jobs? That is the question we all are waiting to see.

9:08

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Steve Jobs has grown from an unknown in the 1970's to an incredible figure today. He is responsible for so many industry changing and reshaping products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, but don't forget iTunes, the retail stores and the movie business with Pixar and Walt Disney as well.

9:09

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

There are no other Steve Jobs like CEO's out there today. The question is it impossible to replace him or is it just Apple?

9:09

Michael Snider - jeff -- what does cook have to do to keep the "magic" working?

9:10

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

We may see Apple revert to an ordinary company, or we may see it continue to grow as rapidly. We'll just have to wait and see.

9:10

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

This initial period is key.

9:10

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Just like when you meet someone for the first time and don't know exactly how to measure them up. The first words, the first actions speak volumes.

9:11

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

If they are accurate and right on that is good. If they are wrong, then the company has to fix the wrong perception, and THEN rebuild the right one.



9:12

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

So it is vital that Apple give the right impression immediately so we have the right one going forward.

9:13

[Comment From Dennis Wu ]

How and/or will Jobs' resignation affect consumer buying trends of Apple products?

9:14

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Hi Dennis. Great question. I am sure the execs at Apple are wondering the same thing right now.

9:14

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I don't see any changes in buying trends right now.

9:15

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

When the new products come out, that is when we will get an idea.

9:15

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Todays story is more on the stock. Tomorrows story is on the products and customers.

9:16

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I don't see Apple changing anything in the way they do business. They are the same company today they were yesterday.

9:16

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The real question is will the MAGIC fade away. We'll have to see.

9:16

[Comment From Thomas ]

Forget Apple for a second, is Steve Jobs dying... is his health critical?

9:17

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Hi Thomas. We are all wondering the same thing. This is a two fold story. One is what is next for Apple. The other is Steve Jobs personally. I don't think he would have left the CEO post if he were in strong shape though, do you?

9:18

[Comment From Mel Blitzer]

Naming a successor who has obviously been groomed, Jobs moving to Chairman, the deep design culture of Apple gives me confidence that Apple's next decade will see it continue its success.

9:20

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I think you are right. I hope you are right. I think Apple did what it should have done. Now they have to HOPE the marketplace agrees. There was MAGIC in the mix with Steve Jobs. Not as much with Tim Cook. Will that matter at this point? Yes, but will it hurt or help them is the question.

9:20

[Comment From Thomas]

The big question is what new revolutionary products will never make it to market without Steve Jobs vision? Does Apple R&D still have the same drive and ambition?

9:20

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

That's one of the big questions isn't it.

9:21

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

How much of the success came from Steve Jobs? I think 100% over the last decade or so. Can they keep it pumped going forward? What do you think? What can they do to ensure continued success?





9:23

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Which industry will they transform next?

9:23

Michael Snider - Well, the iCloud opens up a range of possibilities

9:23

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

And will that same level of success occur next time without Jobs?

9:23

[Comment From Guest]

I think the "MAGIC" as you put it should last a while longer even without Jobs there, as the current product lines are well established and I'm sure the future releases have already been planned for a while at least. In terms of him stepping down, it certainly seems that his health is becoming critical, but I won't speculate on that too much. All I'll say about that is that I think its more of an official announcement of what has been reality for a while now, Tim Cook has been running Apple for some time.

9:24

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Yes it does.

9:24

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

You are right. I think this transition has already taken place long ago. This is just the headline.

9:25

[Comment From Thomas]

Personally i've been waiting for some kind of Apple game console, but something new and revolutionary... Then there is the whole 3D and hologram market which is many many years away as yet.

9:25

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I don't actually think things will be much different at Apple early on. But now that it's official, there will be a change in the way the marketplace thinks about it.

9:26

[Comment From Dennis Wu]

Jeff, you mentioned that today's story will be Apple's stock prices. So, rise or fall?

9:26

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

That's a great thought Thomas. Reminds me of that Tom Cruise movie from a few years ago. Apple could have been behind all that incredible tech.

9:27

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

If we only knew!

9:27

Michael Snider - I'll update stock soon as it's available.

9:27

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I truthfully don't see the value decreasing. There is nothing really different today in the company and the way it is run. The difference will be looking out.

9:28

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I am not a stock analyst, I am a tech analyst, so I follow the company and the competition and the new technology.







9:28

[Comment From Thomas]

Yeah, the movie was Minority Report. That's exactly what I was talking about.

9:29

[Comment From Sanjay]

Has the Apple product development process not yet been dissected and analyzed and franchised by now? Surely with people studying Apple so intently that people within Apple would be able to find someone else to play the role Steve Jobs does in figuring out whta the next killer app or killer product would be?

9:29

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The marketplace will be the real judge going forward. It depends how the new Apple talks to them. And it depends how the marketplace reacts. We'll have to wait and see.

9:30

Michael Snider - Sanjay -- I agree with most of that but I wonder how a Cult of Mac will operate without an evangelist. Know what I mean? I just see Jobs and Apple to be so interconnected.

9:30

[Comment From Thomas]

One Apple's best attributes in the last decade is that they make science fiction into a modern product that everyone can use.

9:31

[Comment From Andy]

The value in the consumer space was that Jobs argued for usability first. Typically technocrats build things with features piled atop features, and managers typically don't want to have products that don't have lots of feature checkboxes ticked. This was the genius -- bravery to introduce products that do less rather than more. This is a hard thing to put in a bottle.

9:31

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Hi Sanjay. Agreed. But there is also the MAGIC which is incredibly important for Apple. That is what built Apple. And that is what will either continue to build Apple or let the air out. It is a mixed blessing. Great when things are going well, but possibly devastating when things go wrong.

9:32

[Comment From Darrell]

What Steve left behind is the culture of delivering excellent products and innovation. The constant investment in R&D, the laser focus of a dozen or so products - I expect that these will all continue. Apple has been the "invasive species" on so many markets - music, cell phones, PCs, tablets/notebooks. It enters and soaks up the majority of profits in that industry/market, and leaves the cheap volume share market for others. My bet is that these strategies will outlast not only Steve, but also Tim.

9:33

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Apple is alot like Star Trek. It is an incredible fiction story that we all get sucked into and think it is real. But for Apple it is real.

9:34

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The one key question everyone is asking today is, will Apple continue that success or will it now fall back into the wave of ordinary companies.

9:35

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Because they are so successful today I don't think people expect it do do better. Instead they wonder if it will do worse and if so, how much worse.

9:36

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The average customer doesn't think of Apple as a company. They have a personal relationship with it. Other companies like Starbucks for example have the same kind of relationship.

9:36

[Comment From Dennis Wu]

Let's talk about the next generation of "i" products. How should Apple handle the release of iPhone 5?

9:36

[Comment From Thomas]

Jeff, are there any rumors on new products in the Apple R&D? What can you tell us?

9:37

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Good questions Dennis and Thomas.





9:37

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

First of all it is important to remember that Apple keeps secrets better than any other company so far.

9:38

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

No one really knows what is coming next until it is in the marketplace.

9:38

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Just like you I watch and listen and wonder, but until they talk we really don't know what is coming next.

9:39

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Some iPhones are complete transformations. Others are just improvements. I think this next iPhone will be a completely different software design. The question is what will it do that it doesn't yet do. Will it be noticeable?

9:39

[Comment From Darrell]

Jeff, the how much worse argument presumes that they have somehow had a run of luck, rather than a strategy, and a track record of delivering products customers want, and standing behind the customer whenever they muck up (TimeCapsule power units, MobileMe launch). I have had multiple incidents, and they have stood behind the service each time (replacements units, service gestures).

9:40

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I think Apple has done an incredible job BUT they also miss some important features. Let me give an example.

9:40

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

RIM Blackberry and Palm were the only smart phones to offer MEMOS or NOTES. They let you synchronize with your MEMOS or NOTES from your Microsoft Outlook.

9:41

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Apple iPhone did not have that feature. Then after a couple years they introduced it. Great. However they didn't let you sort your NOTES alphabetically. Big mistake. If you only had a few notes no problem. But if you have a few hundreds notes it is impossible to find the note you need.

9:42

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Therefore even though it was a simple addition, it is still not there. I have told them about this over the last couple years, but it is still not there.

9:42

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

This could let them sell so many more devices, but they just don't get it.

9:43

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

So as great as Apple is, we have to remember they are only human and they goof often just like everyone else.

9:43

[Comment From MC]

iPhones/iPod touches can sync notes from Apples mail.

9:43

[Comment From Thomas]

Jeff, so who is Tim Cook? Where did he come from? Why should we believe he can replace Steve at the helm?

9:44

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Good point Darrell.

9:44

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Hi MC. Can it synch with Outlook and do it alphabetically?







9:45

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Thomas, good question. WHO IS TIM COOK?

9:45

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Who is JOHN GALT?

9:46

Michael Snider - Apple is down about 3%, though numbers are a little delayed

9:46

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Ok seriously. That is one of the key questions. We really don't know who is Tim Cook. We should. He has been running Apple for years. Why are we so familiar with Steve Jobs and not Tim Cook?

9:47

[Comment From MC]

I don't know. I use a Mac and only have to use a PC when I am slumming it at work.

9:47

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

That is one of the key questions and concerns I have. Will he grow into the Steve Jobs type character or will he not? Will the future of Apple be like it is today, or will it be just another company after a while. We just don't know yet and won't for a few years.

9:48

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

We have to think of this as an ENDING OF AN ERA

9:48

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Steve Jobs was an incredible powerhouse, changing many industries and touching tens of millions of us.

9:49

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

WHAT'S NEXT is the question on everyones mind. Investors. Customers. Competitors. Workers. Partners.

9:49

Michael Snider - Jeff -- I can't imagine Cook becoming the sort of evangelist Jobs was. I suspect it would be a mistake if Apple tried to "replace" Jobs, but for so long he's been the face of Apple.

9:49

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Is this Steve Jobs news an oppty for competitors?

9:49

[Comment From Jay]

It's not only the ability to be visionary, we can all dream about what a cool new product would be, but also the ability to take a risk and invest heavily in it. Will the new CEO, with everyone focused on him, be willing to take a leap on radical new products? Corporations usually hate risk, that is why most are just "ordinary". It would be all too easy for him to just focus on iterating current product lines, but the competition will catch up and that won't keep Apple where it is today.

9:49

[Comment From Thomas]

All nerds can relate to Steve starting a computer business in his garage. That is a classic nerd story... so we can all appreciate Steve for that. Tim WHO? what has he done in his career? Who knows...

9:49

[Comment From Mike]

Tim Cook is the hands of Steve Jobs' mind

9:50

[Comment From Sanjay]

If they do not have a visionary/evangelist person to carry the mantra forward, it will be just the breathing room Apple's competitors need to make up ground, especially if they manage to find a Jobs type of personality for their companies.





9:50

[Comment From Darrell]

Every band has its singer. Every company its CEO. You don't hear much from the second string until they get promoted to first string. I look forward to hearing from Tim at the next product launch (historically September)

9:50

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

Steve Jobs is what was needed until the last few years. The success since then has come from Tim Cook, riding on the past work of Jobs.

9:51

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

I think the future will be perfect for Tim Cook IF he can make this transition in the mind of the market.

9:51

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

The MIND OF THE MARKET is always key.

9:55

[Comment From Jeff Kagan]

It has been a real pleasure chatting with you today. I enjoyed it. This is one of the biggest stories of the year, but it is really no surprise. The future of Apple still looks bright as ever. The next few years depends on how well Tim Cook does and if he can win. He cannot replace Steve Jobs. No one can. My best wishes and prayers go out to Steve and his family and friends during this time. The entire world is praying for you. Thanks.

9:55

Michael Snider - Jeff, thanks very much for joining us, and readers, thanks for your contributions.

9:55

Michael Snider - I'll go back through the chat and post some of the comments I missed.

9:56

Michael Snider - For now, have a great day. Will see you again.

9:56

[Comment From Sanjay]

Steve Jobs has definitely matured as a manager. Remember that back in 1988 or so, he was removed from Apple in disgrace ... before founding NeXT, which pioneered some neat technologies like WebObjects, from which the first web server was created by Tim Berners-Lee

9:56

[Comment From Chris]

Jeff, you keep going back to this "relationship" that Apple has with its customers. I may be on my own here, but I happen to own an iPhone and Macbook primarily because of a lack of compelling alternatives - not because of a special relationship I have with Apple. The same goes for Starbucks - I buy their coffee because I haven't yet found anything else as strong as their "bold", but not because I have a special relationship with them. My point is that I think all that needs to happen is for a more compelling product (or line of products) to be introduced by a competitor, and the masses (not necessarily those in the Apple cult) will abandon the brand.

9:56

[Comment From Thomas]

Thanks for your input Jeff.

9:56

[Comment From Guest]

This is precisely the same problem that beset Microsoft when Gates stepped down and assumed a mediocre post as head of development, rather than the sail and rudder of the ship. How has MS fared under Balmer and the associated VPs?

9:56

[Comment From Guest]

AAPL is down 1.90% more than last night's 6+% drop after hours. Real-time (no delay)

9:56

[Comment From Sanjay]

thanks for hosting







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