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October 05, 2011


In 1996, I wrote the below and published it in Pen Computing Magazine.

Bring Back Steve

It'd be good for Apple (though possibly bad for Newton)

I wasn't surprised when Gil Amelio was canned at Apple. He may have contributed in getting Apple better organized, but market share kept slipping, and he could not provide a compelling vision. Neither could Lou Gerstner at IBM, for that matter, but he had the managerial presence (and a good deal of luck) to establish himself as IBM's savior and undisputed leader. Gil Amelio didn't. Fortunately, after all these years, Apple's board is still strong enough to take swift and drastic action when the situation requires it.

So, who's next? Traditional business executives just don't seem to cut it at Apple. Sculley didn't work, Spindler didn't work, and Amelio didn't work. They were all fine managers and executives that could do a world of good for almost every other big US business, but Apple is different. Apple's success has always been based on that elusive combination of conjuring up an exciting vision of the future and then embodying it in elegant technical solutions. Apple is about vision, imagination, and products people want and desire. When was the last time anyone desired Windows?

So let's get Steven Jobs back at Apple's helm. There's no one who can fire up the imagination like he can. No one does a better presentation. He may not be the best manager in the world, or the easiest to get along with, but so what? Who else can claim his accomplishments? He co-founded Apple and an entire industry, he created a superb product like the Macintosh. After his departure from Apple he started another company, Next, and was smart enough to change the mission of the company when it become obvious that being in the hardware business didn't work out. He then snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by selling his Next technology to Apple for almost half a billion dollars. While doing all this, he also had the foresight to invest in Pixar and made another fortune when that company went public. Founding Apple was not a flash in the pan. He's one of the truly great innovators of this age, he knows how to run a business and make it successful, and he doesn't throw in the towel when things go badly.

Jobs started Apple, and it would be only right to see him at the helm once again. The upside is that he'd immediately provide the company with a huge boost just by being back. He'd energize the legions of loyal Mac devotees, and most probably recruit many new ones (remember, who really loves Windows?). And since Apple is about to include Next technology into its next generation of computers, who knows it better than Jobs? The downside? Even with Jobs, Apple could still flounder and die. But under whose leadership would you rather see Apple go down? Yet another faceless manager, or the very man who started it all?

Let's get Steven Jobs back, even if it means hard times for the Newton.


Steve Jobs died today, October 5, 2011. He was only 56.

Posted by conradb212 at October 5, 2011 09:34 PM