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Pondering Apple's Future Without Steve Jobs


When Steve Jobs died Wednesday, the business world lost a marketing genius - one of the world's most creative and successful innovators. Jobs, who is credited with rescuing the company he founded and turning it into one of the world's most valuable corporations, is considered one of this generation's great trailblazers. As the world mourns Job's death, though, some are wondering what will happen to Apple now that its iconic leader is gone.

For a college dropout, Jobs did quite well. A billionaire many times over, Jobs was the ultimate salesman, a man who seemed to know what consumers wanted even before they did.

"Everything will be portable, people want large color screens that they can put photographs on, people want motion videos," said Jobs.

Return to form

By creating well designed products that people wanted to use, Jobs returned to a company that was nearly bankrupt in the early 90's and transformed it into one of the world's biggest corporations.

But can Apple continue its winning ways without its spiritual leader?

Sanford Bernstein technology analyst Mark Newman said, "Well I am not going to say it is the end of Apple's innovation. I do believe they will continue, they have many, many great people there. But I am concerned long-term about the innovation waning, as I said before.

Newman says Apple's dominance in consumer electronics faces serious challenges from its competitors, some who are involved in a number of high-profile legal battles with Apple.

"And I do think they are coming under increasing attack by companies, especially Samsung, especially at the low-end, as well as the high-end. And I think without Steve Jobs, this is actually going to become significantly worse for them to fend off," said Newman.

Challenges, confidence

But some analysts say Job's decision to step down as CEO in August and his nomination of Tim Cook as his successor means Apple's fate is no longer as closely tied to its charismatic leader.

Hong Kong market analyst Francis Lun said Apple shares have held steady, reflecting investor confidence in Apple's future.

"As far as the stock market is concerned, I think you will find people who will short Apple shares, but other than that I really do not think there is really that much effect on the stock market or the business world," said Lun.

Even so, many consider Jobs the heart and soul of the company. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak mourns the loss of so much creative potential.

"There was so much more that was yet to come, even though he was so accomplished, and that is what we worry about now. Why? Because every product from Apple spoke like it was Steve Jobs. He was represented by this stuff, and I am not going to put out just some great stuff, it has got to be insanely great. That is how he wanted to appear to the world," said Wozniak.

"Insanely great" was one of Job's favorite catch phrases. The question now is whether that legacy of revolutionary products and ideas will continue without Steve Jobs at the helm.

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