After long-simmering talks about Steve Jobs' health capped by the Apple CEO's Macworld no-show and decision to take six months off, Apple resellers wonder if other Apple executives will step to the fore at Apple.
With all of the hype about Jobs' illness and rumors circulating that he will leave Apple Inc. for health reasons, "many people feel like history could repeat itself," said Michael Oh, founder and president of Tech Superpowers, a big Boston-based Apple reseller.
When Jobs left Apple during his blowout with John Scully in the '80s, Apple had a tremendous period of real stagnation in terms of innovation and technology, Oh said. However, this time if Jobs were to leave, it is not a power struggle where someone else would take the lead and go in a different direction, he said.
"Jobs has all the people he wants in positions that matter," he said. "If he steps away from his position, I don't see a material difference in Apple for at least two years. As a visionary and someone who can come up with new products, he was doing some of that, but there is a team behind him."
Jobs is the leading force and visionary behind Apple, but it's hard to believe the company would collapse without him, said Alex Zaltsman, CEO of TourSpot, a New York developer of mobile software.
Zaltzman summed up Apple's biggest problem: For better or worse, Jobs is a lightning rod for press and analyst attention. People may know of Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer; Senior Vice President Philip Schiller; and Senior Vice President and resident design genius Jonathan Ive, but Jobs has been front and center during the iPod and iPhone revolution. Jobs received nearly all of the credit -- for good or ill -- for the wild successes of those products. That laser-like focus on Jobs-as-Apple could now hurt the company, analysts say.
Zaltsman said that while there are many people who make the products Apple creates, Apple has failed to show them to users, thus causing the hysteria surrounding Jobs' possible leave from Apple.
"The biggest problem is that [Apple] hasn't brought forward executives and hasn't made them public enough," Zaltsman said.Miles Erani, a sales and administration rep of DesignTech said Jobs is more of an emotional part of Apple for many people and does not directly affect the sale of Apple products.
Apple resellers are not entirely dependent on the production of Apple products and would not be significantly affected by Job's potential absence from Apple, Erani said. His feeling is that their skillsets are transferable to other lineups if matters come to that.
"We're Apple resellers, but we're valued Apple resellers. We could do what we do on any platform, but we like Apple," Erani said. If Jobs were to leave the company because of his health or for any other reason, Apple will take a hit, but nothing too extreme, he said. "Apple has too much in the bank right now to fold on the actions of one person."