Will Steve Jobs' exit get other businesses thinking?

How will Steve Jobs' health affect Apple both now and in the future? And what does it mean for businesses with iconic leadership? Paul Briden finds out...

"Microsoft went through it when Steve Ballmer took over from Bill Gates. The transition definitely took a long time and it's a problem Apple will face," he said.

"Jobs will be a tough act to follow. It won't be like Ballmer and Gates. I don't see a single individual stepping in and having the same impact," he added.

Perhaps the best thing any successor can do whether Tim Cook in the short term or someone else entirely is to avoid attempting to copycat Jobs.

"Is he [Tim Cook] the next Steve Jobs?' No. there is no next Steve Jobs' just as there is no new Bob Dylan'," said Mike McGuire, a research vice president at analyst firm Gartner when IT PRO first pondered what would happen if Jobs stepped out of the limelight.

Jobs' uniquely hands-on approach is arguably both the strongest point of the brand and its most vulnerable in this context. Normally, CEO replacement concerns focus on whether the successor can carry on skilled management.

Such fears have already been tested by Tim Cook's stewardship of the company during Jobs' previous hiatus and his successful overhaul of Apple's manufacturing and production. Furthermore, Apple's latest set of bumper results showed things continue to go well for the company, with growth and output above and beyond investor expectations.

Set against the above backdrop, the argument that the company isn't in capable hands doesn't carry that much weight.

Jobs' magic touch, and the area in which some doubt a replacement can be found, is in his close involvement and vision for the entire product catalogue at every level.

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