Silicon Valley sees continued success for Apple

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple headquarters is still standing in this leafy Silicon Valley suburb even after Steve Jobs’ industry-rattling announcement that he was resigning as chief executive of the company he co-founded in a garage more than three decades ago.

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple headquarters is still standing in this leafy Silicon Valley suburb even after Steve Jobs’ industry-rattling announcement that he was resigning as chief executive of the company he co-founded in a garage more than three decades ago.

That news comes as little surprise in the Valley, where few doubted Thursday that despite the loss of its legendary leader Apple would continue to succeed — at least for the next few years.

“I don’t think in the short term it will suffer,” said Ethan Salter, 35, an engineering consultant who had stopped at a Starbucks just down the road from the Mountain View headquarters of Google Inc., a major Apple competitor. “In the long term, things change really quickly around here.”

Tech workers interviewed by The Associated Press said they were not shocked to hear Wednesday that Jobs was stepping down. His health troubles, which have included pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant, are well-known.

Yet in a place where the lightning speed of success is matched perhaps only by the careening pace of failure, some wondered whether Jobs’ departure could ultimately lead to a turn in its fortunes.

Apple itself floundered for a decade after Jobs left the company, and its rise to its current success did not begin until he returned in the late 1990s, cementing his image as the key to the company’s rise.

“Last time he left Apple, it wasn’t so pretty,” said Aaron Wegner, 31, a computer programmer at Lawrence Livermore National Lab visiting Silicon Valley for the day.

“I think he’s a driving force behind what their products end up physically looking like.”

Jobs’ reputation as a micromanager of Apple’s design process has both helped and hindered the company. The company’s string of commercial triumphs over the past decade has convinced many consumers and investors that with Jobs in charge Apple could do no wrong. The flip side of that confidence is an anxiety about whether the company will falter without him.

Mi Young, 43, a business operations manager at a small computer networking company in Santa Clara, said she doubts Jobs would have stepped down without a plan in place.

Many of the ideas to come out of Apple in the next five years she believes will still bear Jobs’ stamp. “Beyond that, I don’t know who will be able to fill those shoes.”

Part of the concern among Apple fans hinges on how heavily the company itself has relied on Jobs’ cult of personality to market its innovative products.

His onstage appearances to unveil Apple’s newest designs draw thousands of adoring fans and hundreds of journalists who broadcast his every word around the globe.

“There’s this identification of the company with the man,” said Alex Bochannek, curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. That kind of identification is not unique to Apple in the history of computer companies and leads to the assumption that these large, complex organizations are run singlehandedly, he said.

But Jobs has clearly surrounded himself with smart people, Bochannek said, such as lead designer Jonathan Ive, best known to the public as the stylish Brit who extolls Apple’s latest products in the company’s online marketing videos.

“I don’t think anyone thinks Apple is going away tomorrow,” he said. At the same time, he said, “ultimately it’s the leader who creates a culture.”

While Apple’s focus on attractive design and ease of use has fostered a culture of innovation, heavy secrecy is also a cornerstone of its operations.

The veil the company drapes over its inner workings encourages a furious online trade in speculation and rumours about Apple and its products.

Outside the company’s Cupertino headquarters Thursday, Apple employees were unsurprisingly tight-lipped about their boss’ decision, saying they’re under strict orders not to talk to reporters.

“It’s called job security,” one employee said.

Jobs’ replacement as CEO is Tim Cook, a longtime Apple executive who has temporarily filled the spot when Jobs has gone on medical leave. While no one including Cook can currently match Jobs’ tech industry star power, some longtime industry observers say the key to Apple’s future success lies in how much attention it can continue to draw to its products, not its leader.

Says Computer History Museum software curator Al Kossow: “The question is whether Tim Cook is going to keep innovating.”

———

Marcus Wohlsen can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/marcuswohlsen

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

A boat sits idle on the banks of Villa Victoria Dam, the main water supply for Mexico City residents, on the outskirts of Toluca, Mexico, Thursday, April 22, 2021. The mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years, and that problem can be seen at the series of reservoirs that bring in water from other states to supply the capital. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2020, file photo Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th Women’s March in Los Angeles. Jenner has been an Olympic hero, a reality TV personality and a transgender rights activist. Jenner has been consulting privately with Republican advisers as she considers joining the field of candidates seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a likely recall election later this year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Jenner adds celebrity, questions to California governor race

Celebrity activist immediately stands out in a growing field

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Jeremy Fleming, head of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in London. Western countries risk losing control of technologies that are key to internet security and economic prosperity to nations with competing values like China and Russia if they don’t act to deal with the threat, one of the U.K.’s top spy chiefs warned on Friday, April 23, 2021. “Significant technology leadership is moving East” and causing a conflict of interests and values, Jeremy Fleming, director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, said in a speech. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
UK spy chief says West faces ‘moment of reckoning’ on tech

China’s Foreign Ministry condemn the remarks

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Most Read