If you have followed yesterday’s Apple keynote presentation of the new Macbooks (if not, watch it here) you have noticed that Steve Jobs one-man-show was replaced with a balanced, all planned, three-man-show with Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and Jonathan “Jony” Ive. Cook (Apple’s COO) and Ive (Senior VP of Design) are well known as vital parts of the new Apple that was reborn when Jobs came back to the company in ’97, but have seldom had media exposition and accepted to live on iSteve’s shadow.
But this is changing! Unless Steve Jobs is virtualized ala Max Headroom, he will leave the stage and retire someday. Some say he’s sick (none of my business, though he did look rather thin and less charged that usual) and it will happen sooner while others say he’ll stay as head and showman for at least an extra decade. In any case, he will move on sooner or later and that empty space will be cumbersome and difficult to fill up. Besides, the fluffy financial market speculations on him staying as Commander-in-Chief is one of the many factors making Apple’s stock (APPL) travel up and down.
Yesterday I saw a clear marketing plan in action to:
1) present two important Apple Generals to the wider public (it is rumored that Tim Cook might become the new CEO when Steve Jobs decides to retire). Rarely have Cook or Ive given interviews or talked about Apple in public and
2) introduce them as speakers for future keynotes, in order to make the transition smoother and preparing them to meet bigger audiences in future events.
It is clear that the whole keynote was carefully studied, as they always do. I guess that even the clothes they were wearing weren’t left to chance (in particular Cook’s, almost mimicking his boss’ style). Cook and Ive appeared a bit stiff as this is not their usual environment, but it is normal and they played in this “minor” event at home in order to reduce the first impact. By letting his teammates share some of the limelight, Jobs was saying “See? I’m not the only brain around… these guys are the ones into it!”. I am sure there is a detailed roadmap for future involvement of these and other key Apple figures and I don’t think that Jobs will be leaving in the short term. As with many steps Apple has taken in the past, they tend to be very coherent, a clockwork meticulously oiled and tuned.
The net is talking a lot about the new Macbooks, that always pushing the industry a step forward, but even more about Jobs stepping aside. This is an interesting article on Gizmodo by Jesus Dias.