Apple fans: Company is more than Steve Jobs
Apple fans and would-be customers seemed to agree that while Steve Jobs’ charisma and innovative genius is one-of-a-kind, the company he built will survive without him.
After he resigned as CEO of the iconic gadget maker, Jobs was not the topic of conversation.
On the display computers set up around the Apple store on Manhattan’s swanky Fifth Avenue across from Central Park, people scrolled through Facebook photos, checked bank account balances and watched videos on YouTube. They weren’t, from the looks of it, reading news stories about Jobs.
Ira Rovitz played with his iPad as he emerged from the store Thursday morning. He had stopped by to get an update on when a new version of the iPhone might be coming out. His wife already has an iPhone, and he’s interested in getting one, too.
Rovitz said that even without Jobs, Apple will still be a strong company with great products.
“Although he’s the face of the company, there will still be lines outside the store,” said Rovitz.
Greg Solis, a retired New York City police detective who owns stock in the company, said Apple probably has “enough product in the pipeline for the next few years.”
“The iPhone 5 is going to be revolutionary and the iPad 3 is going to take over the world,” said Solis.
Jobs resigned as CEO on Wednesday, saying he could no longer handle the job. He said he will continue to play a leadership role as chairman of the board. He has been on medical leave since January. Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, who has been filling in for Jobs, was named CEO.
Jared Karlow, 23, was shopping with his girlfriend, Maegan Tabbey, 21, on the evening that Jobs resigned. Both believe that the company will be fine and that Jobs’ role likely became less integral as the company grew.
“Apple’s created an identity for themselves that is well above and beyond Steve Jobs. People don’t think of Steve Jobs when they think of Apple. They think of a sexy brand,” said Karlow, who works in information technology for the financial services industry. “You could say the same thing about Microsoft. They have outlived Bill Gates.”
Added Tabbey: “My sister just bought a Mac laptop and I promise you she doesn’t know who Steve Jobs is.”
Apple may be known for its rabid fan base, but the company’s creative genius lies in being able to attract a mass-market audience. These are the folks who may only vaguely know that Steve Jobs, the guy in the black mock turtlenecks, is the force behind the iPhone in their pocket or the iPad in their hands.
Unless prompted by a reporter, customers in the Fifth Avenue Apple store didn’t seem to be discussing Jobs’ departure. Instead, they were asking employees about the products and their prices. Business flowed as usual.
Walking out of an Apple store in Phoenix, Jim Zanzucchi, 49, said he’d never heard of Jobs, and he didn’t believe the CEO’s departure will mean less innovation for the company.
“I don’t know if he’s the person who thought of it all,” he said. “I’m sure he wasn’t. I’m sure there’s a host of people below him.”
In San Francisco, software engineer P.K. Kalyanraman said he was worried his Apple stock will decline in value.
“I think Steve Jobs has been a shadow figure for the last one and a half to two years now with his health problems, so I still feel like the company will function perfectly fine without Steve Jobs for at least a few more years,” he said.
But, he added, “how they progress into new technology and how they keep up with the market is what we’ve got to look for in the new person who comes in over there.”
The biggest Apple fans certainly felt Jobs’ departure.
Seanmichael Rodgers was saddened. He made his way to the Fifth Avenue store after work, after reading the news on his iPad 2 while on a break.
“I just want to be close to him,” he said with a laugh. He sat on the plaza in front of the store and played Words With Friends, a Scrabble-like game, on the Apple tablet computer.
When asked why he didn’t invite anyone to come with him, he said, “I didn’t really think it was a moment to share.”