When the news broke earlier tonight that Apple’s Steve Jobs had stepped down from his duties as CEO, and had asked—humbly—to serve as the company’s Chairman, a director, and as a regular employee, our editors discussed whether we should share our thoughts beyond the specifics of the story. In the age of Twitter and mass over-editorializing, people now expect immediate reactions when any major story breaks. Yet as Apple has shown us over the past several years in particular, there are times when it’s better to wait and say nothing rather than speaking quickly—particularly when emotions are running high, as they are right now. Given how momentous this particular occasion is, we do want to say a few things before the dust has settled. There will obviously be more to share in the days to come.
1. Our first and still most important thoughts concern the continued health of Steve Jobs. We write about and use Apple products every day, but our interest goes beyond the technology and the company; we admire the visionary man who made it all possible, and hope for the best for him. Regardless of whether he continues in a semi-active role at Apple for years or completely stops working tomorrow, Jobs has already done so much for this world—both specifically and inspirationally—that he deserves every bit of rest and privacy he can get during this challenging time. Our thoughts and wishes are with you, Steve Jobs, and with your family.
2. The question of how Apple will fare as a company will be discussed ad infinitum in the days and weeks to come, but it’s not one that should be contemplated lightly in the wake of tonight’s news. Knee-jerk “oh no” or “everything’s fine” reactions provide little texture or understanding of how Apple actually operates; many of these reactions appear to be more concerned with the company’s stock price and stability than the continued greatness of the products it creates. Until we know who will replace new Apple CEO Tim Cook in his prior and critical role as COO, and what other management changes may be necessary to shore Apple up on the creative and marketing side, speculating as to the future will be all but pointless.
3. Finally, we congratulate Apple on making the smart and logical choice to bring Tim Cook into that role as CEO, as he has worked magic in improving Apple’s operations every quarter for years now. There is no perfect choice to replace a leader of Steve Jobs’ caliber, and it surely can be argued that a master of production and distribution is not enough to helm a ship that depends upon great products to generate continued demand. But there is every indication that Tim Cook understands his limits, appreciates the value of teamwork in Apple’s successes, and will work hard to continue Jobs’ legacy at Apple. This is not a company known to consumers for playing things safe, but behind the scenes, it takes incredible power to coordinate massive domestic and international rollouts, and Apple has had far more successes in these regards than stumbles.
We welcome your comments and thoughts below.