IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

After Steve Jobs, who will run Apple?

Steve Jobs' health has left many wondering what Apple's succession plans are - if indeed it has any.

If he shows up on stage looking a bit gaunt or worse, doesn't show up on stage at all it's enough to send Apple's shares spiralling. So what happens to the firm when Steve Jobs finally does step down, whether it's this summer due to illness or 10 years from now for retirement?

Jobs' health has long been an issue, ever since his successful battle with pancreatic cancer in 2004. But while last year was a good one for Apple, posting record MacBook sales and launching the iPhone 3G, it's not been a great year for Jobs' health. As a cancer survivor, he's clearly had worse years, but as he steadily lost weight over the past few months, appearing on stage thinner each time, the rumours started again. Was the cancer back? Was it something else? And what was Apple going to do if Jobs had to step down again?

Apple has never answered that last question it simply refuse to discuss the issue. It's not particularly strange for a major firm to not make details of its chief executive (CEO) succession plan public knowledge, but the combination of Jobs' apparently poor health with his firm control as the leader and public face of Apple makes many people want to know more especially shareholders, who would likely prefer the smooth transition Microsoft pulled off after Bill Gates' departure than any surprises.

At the end of last year, Jobs tried to calm the rumours by explaining the source of his weight loss. It wasn't cancer, just a basic hormone imbalance. But this week, Jobs emailed an open letter to his staff, explaining it wasn't such a simple health issue as first thought, saying "during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought."

With that, Jobs stepped down for six months, in order to receive treatment but also to let Apple continue its work without having to deal with the malestrom of gossip that surrounds his health. Jobs wrote: "Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well."

But as Apple refused to comment for this story on the succession issue, all we're left with is rumour and speculation about who could be the next leader of Apple. The options

Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, will lead Apple's day-to-day operations until Jobs' return much as he did when Jobs left for cancer treatment in 2004. But Jobs has made it clear that he will keep his hand in things over the next few months, robbing Cook of the chance to take responsibilty for the full company.

But does that mean Cook's next in line for Apple's throne? Mike McGuire, a research vice president at analyst firm Gartner, said it's simply impossible for anyone outside the upper echelons of the firm to have any idea. "[It's] very hard for any outsider, even a longtime observer, to answer this. Clearly, Cook has the temperament to do the job, in as much as he's been there since 2000," McGuire told IT PRO. "So does he have the chops' to lead the company? Sure." "Is he the next Steve Jobs?' No. there is no next Steve Jobs' just as there is no new Bob Dylan'," McGuire added.

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

Apple "completely redesigns" IT certifications, introduces two new exams
Careers & training

Apple "completely redesigns" IT certifications, introduces two new exams

19 May 2022
Apple executive rejoins Google over remote work policy
flexible working

Apple executive rejoins Google over remote work policy

18 May 2022
The Total Economic Impact™ of Apple Mac in Enterprise: M1 update
Whitepaper

The Total Economic Impact™ of Apple Mac in Enterprise: M1 update

12 May 2022
Three lessons the iPod can teach us about disruption
Technology

Three lessons the iPod can teach us about disruption

11 May 2022

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security
Careers & training

(ISC)2 launches free scheme to get 100,000 UK citizens into cyber security

17 May 2022
Preparing for the 3G sunset
Network & Internet

Preparing for the 3G sunset

18 May 2022