Steve Jobs not vital to Apples future

On October 11, 2011

When visitors reach apple.com, they are now greeted by a quizzical yet mischievous portrait of Steve Jobs, the charismatic Apple CEO who has been lauded by media outlets as one of the foremost visionaries of our time.

When Jobs died of pancreatic cancer last week, media outlets such as MSNBC proclaimed that it was the "end of an era" for Apple. When he resigned as CEO in October, outlets such as The Telegraph asked if it was the "beginning of the end."

Such statements are shortsighted. Apple is much more than just one man and has proven that Jobs' entrepreneurial spirit will not be forgotten. Through careful planning, they have used the passing of their leader to keep interest in the company strong enough to hold them over until the next "Steve Jobs" emerges.

Apple is worth $371 billion, according to Yahoo Finance. Wikinvest.com shows that Apple was worth only $7 billion in 2001. Apple is now worth more than Microsoft and Intel combined, or all the illegal drugs in the world, according to thingsappleisworthmorethan.tumblr.com. It would take enormous mismanagement of the company for it to lose its edge from its meteoric rise.

The company has been increasing the proportion of profits allocated to research and development, as well. According to gizmodo.com, Apple has quadrupled the amount of funding for research and development (R&D) over the last decade. For Apple, this comprises less than 4 percent of its budget, while Microsoft spends nearly 17 percent. But, given Apple's growth, it is possible that Apple's research dollars are spent more efficiently toward designing new products.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll asked readers if they would buy a share in Apple stock as "a tribute" to Jobs. This is rather unusual, as the Wall Street Journal usually advocates buying or selling stock on the basis of investment quality, as opposed to sentimentality. Given the high-profile innovation of Apple products, it is unlikely investors will need to be coaxed into buying Apple stock on the basis of "a tribute," as Apple has healthy prospects for long-term growth, and a huge base of loyal customers. Jobs also left plans for his successor to carry on his corporate legacy, according to zdnet.com. Apple has a penchant for planning ahead, according to the Boston Herald. The iPad design was registered in 2004, but the product did not reach the market until last year. Jobs was a visionary, and he was wise enough to detail the direction that future leaders should take the company.

Apple will survive without Jobs. Despite the weight of his influence, much credit must be given to Apple designers, programmers and corporate managers. They were the ones running Apple while Jobs was managing his health. The next Apple CEO will have big shoes to fill, but the culture of innovation at Apple should produce a worthy heir to Jobs.

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