Is Apple hunting for a new CEO?
America already got a new CEO this week. We also have a new saviour in the chair at Citibank/Group. Interestingly, Steve Jobs (AAPL) has already stepped out for a long while. After his first break in 2003, when Pixar came into the world and while AOL Time Warner (TWX, TWC) was still struggling to tape itself together; 5 years before inorganic acquisition Merrill (MER) and Bank of America (BAC) started on the wrong foot (Thain just stepped down) we are looking at a very serious gap in Apple’s strategy that could spell worse turmoil for the financial markets than the preceding crisis as it shows up a lack of character in large corporations that affects employees, investors and friends alike.
We have a smart well placed shimmy from the PR team at Apple about the capabilities of the team of 35000 employees at Apple (AAPL), which could have been part of its core strategy but probably wasn’t. Large organizations do need to be more expressive about their plans for their senior executives. Ones like Apple that survive on luxury pricing for the mass audience come once in “I don’t know another” years and they are on the precipice in this simple crisis. Thankfully, with the markets at such a bend no one may have the time to notice, but my friends at Apple would today be a tortured lot for this uncertainty. There are good leadership candidates outside the company as well whose names should be known to investors and the public in advance if this revolution is going to survive. In its international, and to some extent even in the home US markets, Apple still hangs to a precipice because of its pricing and a lot more transparency into the organization is mandated at such a critical time. Its lack of communication in its international markets would make the situation even more frightening for those outside Cupertino CA.
This is a thought that gets life today as we discuss what will come next at Apple. how will we treat the next breakthrough innovation? How will we get real market share for its iphones and iMacs which had just started to capture popular imagination? How will we grow the iPod business which has proved itself but is still not probably even a tenth of its potential?