Thursday August 25, 2011 4:37 pm
Here’s why Steve Jobs chose now to resign
Steve Jobs is no longer CEO of Apple. We all knew we'd hear those words someday, but today they've become startlingly, suddenly real. Jobs abruptly resigned from his post at around 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, taking the tech world—check that, the world—by surprise. Among the host of initial questions is, Why now?
I don't mean the reasoning behind the exact time, which is obvious. By making the announcement in the early evening after the markets had closed, Jobs was careful not to hit a jittery Wall Street with his bombshell. And I don't mean the end of August—though for the record all signs are pointing to the next Apple event happening in mid September at the earliest, so the announcement neatly avoids overshadowing other Apple business.
There's certainly the medical reason, which no doubt factors highly. Jobs was on medical leave, after all, most likely due to complications from the pancreatic cancer he beat a few years ago. But tellingly, Jobs isn't resigning to play golf or spend all his time with his family. He's been appointed chairman of Apple's board, and continue to be involved. His condition is certainly at the heart his decision, but given that he's clearly not on his deathbed, he could have probably waited months to make this move, if not until 2012.
The reason Jobs picked this time to leave active duty at Apple is apparent. He's done. He's finished executing a brilliant strategy of transitioning Apple from a PC-focused company to a company that's leading the charge into what Jobs calls the "Post-PC world." Over the past decade, Apple's legendary success began with the iPod, evolved into the iPhone, and reached new heights with the iPad.
Apple now is one of the heaviest hitters in mobile, and it virtually owns the tablet market. This is the company's focus now. Sure, it's made gains in the PC landscape, but they're relatively minor. I'm not sure if it was the goal when Jobs began his second tenure as Apple CEO, but his entire strategy has centered around de-emphasizing the PC in the computing experience. Apple's most recent innovations see this strategy at last fully realized: the iPad and iPhone serve most of the day-to-day needs of tech users. iOS 5 makes those devices more independent from the machines they sync with. And the whole idea of iCloud is to demote the PC to just another device.
Jobs' vision of a Post-PC world isn't just a vision anymore; it's happening. And Apple's the 800-pound cybergorilla that rules the jungle. So where to go from here? What device comes after the iPad? I'm sure there are innovations and more beautiful machines being cooked up in Apple's skunk works, but it's doubtful there's something around the corner that's about to shake up the industry yet again.
But the company doesn't need it. Apple has no need at this point to invent another product category and seismically shift expectations again. Under Jobs, Apple was all about creating the vision of the Post-PC world. Well, it's here now. The iPhone has redefined what people expect from cell phones, and the iPad is the in-between device no one know they wanted. All the products Apple has introduced in the last few years (even Apple TV) have helped shape this world; now it's up to the team he's put in place to hone it.
So it's really the perfect time for Jobs to hand over the reins of Apple. The company's on top, it's swimming in cash, and it has a very strong arsenal of products to win the technology industry that it significantly shaped. Apple can afford to hone and polish during a transition that will no doubt see many among its ranks compete to be the next chief visionary officer. It'll take something, and someone, special to truly succeed Jobs the Creator (as opposed to Jobs the CEO), but, for right now, they've got time.
This article, written by Peter Pachal, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.
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