Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jobs done

So, the day has finally come: Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple.
PRESS RELEASE: Letter from Steve Jobs

August 24, 2011–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

It has become increasingly obvious, over the last few years, that Jobs's illness has taken an increasing toll on his health—and one does not have to read between the lines to understand that Jobs's failing health is the major driver for this resignation.

Pancreatic cancer has a very bad prognosis—it killed the 32-year old Bill Hicks in very short order (as well as many, many others)—and the Whipple Procedure (which Jobs originally took a leave of absence to undergo a few years ago) is, in itself, pretty radical. I last saw Jobs when he introduced the WWDC keynote back in early June: although he was enthusiastic, he looked pretty frail.

Jobs has taken Apple from being, as he put it, "90 days from bankruptcy" in the mid-90s—when I bought my very first Mac—to, at one point this month, the biggest company in the world (by market capitalisation). Indeed, at the end of July, it was reported that Apple had more cash in the bank than the US Federal Government—which is pretty good going.

To those of us who follow Apple with a near-fanatical zeal, it has been obvious for some time that the company was putting in place a transition plan. Over the last few years, each successive keynote has seen more presentations from the likes of Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller and Tim Cook—even when Jobs has, theoretically, been back at full fitness. For watchers of the company, this moment has been long anticipated and, whilst not welcome news, we can at least be confident that Apple has—as Jobs puts it in his letter—a "succession plan". And, indeed, Tim Cook has been named CEO.

Whilst former COO Cook may not have Jobs's imagination, he is an immensely competent administrator and has been handling much of the day-to-day running of Apple since he joined the company in 1998. Indeed, it was Cook who took over as temporary CEO when Steve Jobs took a leave of absence, for surgery, in 2004.

Jobs has not entirely left the company: he takes over as Chairman of Apple and it is to be hoped that Jobs's vision will continue to drive the company for as long as he is able. Personally I fear that it may not be for too much longer, but I hope that I am wrong. Because Steve Jobs is a genius.

As I have been saying for sometime—paraphrasing the great Bill Hicks—the fact that we live in a world where Steve Jobs is dying of cancer, but Bill Gates coooooontinues to enjoy his ill-deserved wealth shows that there really is no god*.

In the meantime, I expect Apple to go from strength to strength, and to continue to produce great machines that I can use to actually get my work done—rather than having to fuck about with bollocks like Create A New Network Place.

I salute you, Steve Jobs, and wish you many more years of creating beautiful things.

*UPDATE: just to clarify, for those with a nastier frame of mind than myself, I am not wishing death on Bill Gates. I am simply pointing out that the fact that Gates is not ill and, if there were any justice in the world, Jobs would also not be dying of cancer. 'Kay? 'Kay. Good.

UPDATE 2: John Gruber at Daring Fireball comes to pretty much the same conclusion, but makes the interesting point that Jobs's creation is not really any one product.
Apple’s products are replete with Apple-like features and details, embedded in Apple-like apps, running on Apple-like devices, which come packaged in Apple-like boxes, are promoted in Apple-like ads, and sold in Apple-like stores. The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?”

Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.



Mr Eugenides said...


(sent from my iPad, which I now love more than most of the women I have known)

Ian H said...

I might be an Apple fanboy but i would never wish death on Bill Gates like you seem to be doing. I know Jobs has many fewer billions in the bank but is he following Gates's example in giving away the vast majority of his personal fortune?

Barnacle Bill said...

Well said Mr. D-K.

JuliaM said...

I'll second that 'amen' from Mr Eugenides.

Sent from my PC, which is still a better gaming platform.

JuliaM said...

"I might be an Apple fanboy but i would never wish death on Bill Gates like you seem to be doing."

No need to tell us you are an Apple fanboy. The fact you clearly didn't read the small print gives it away...

"I know Jobs has many fewer billions in the bank but is he following Gates's example in giving away the vast majority of his personal fortune?"

And that makes him a better entrepreneur, designer and businessman how, exactly?

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Stuart Broad did an Apple, didn't he? India played the role of Microsoft.

I don't like Apple products for myself (I had to work with some ghastly old kit long ago that scarred me for life), but I don't mind other people deriving pleasure from them.

In fact I support other people deriving pleasure from them. It makes me seem even more humble in comparison :-)

I hope that money can buy time for Jobs, and if not, some quality of life.

I don't think that your comment about BG implied anything. After my father died, I asked myself why some of the effluvia I see every day had functioning hearts.

I disagree, though, that BG's fortune is ill-deserved. If he's conned people, he must be the best conman of all time.

People want Mickeyware, people buy Mickeyware. Everybody knows it's shit. Google "windows Vista" and 'shit'. 9M results.

Gates realised early on that in a time when computers were dumb and their users were smart, the eternal truth is that the vast majority of mankind is fucking stupid.

He developed his software to harness not just the abject retardation of the end lusers, but the slavish, half-baked brains of middle manglement's 'please submit this document in Word 6' inflexibility, especially when it cam to certain types of people getting into MM roles with zero computing knowledge.

When you look at the MS structure, with all the circle-jerking MVPs who are incapable of solving a direct question, their featuring of a strangely bizarre Windows 7 launch party:

geeky asshole

When you think about it, this is pretty much how most large corporations work these days.

Anonymous said...

I'm just hoping that someone, apple or not, breaks the Directx monopoly, then I can actually consider something other than windows (or windows will be forced to compete).

Michael Fowke said...

I think that (maybe) Bill Gates should be admired for his hard work though. Apparently, he used to sleep under his desk.

Elby the Beserk said...

They always seem very expensive to me. My brother, USA resident and iMad, came over with his brand new sparkly iSomething a couple of years ago. I costed a far better performing box for him here, at 2/3rds of the cost.

Anyone who pays for design over functionality needs ... a re-design?

Certainly, the only Mac I ever used (on a visit to said brother in 1997) was fucking AWFUL. Slow, and crashed all the time. Made W95 look smart. Having said that, Windows 7 is just hunky dory, specially run off a solid state drive. Goes like shit off a shovel.

Anonymous said...

well for £110+ it bloody well should (that is the current cheapest price for a proper *full* version of windows 7).

Windows 7 is okay, but as someone who just plays games and the net, does nothing that XP does, other than directx 10.

Make directX 10 run on linux or mac, or bring back openGL, and I have no reason to use windows.

They really do have a monopoly in that respect.

Anonymous said...

Windows 7 is much cheaper than that if you get it with a new machine. And honestly if you are still gaming on XP you don't know what you're missing.

Technology has moved on since OpenGL. De facto standards always move faster than "consortiums" and "working groups" and Apple benefit from that as much as anyone. If they'd had to wait for ISO to standardise the iPhone software, you'd still all be using BlackBerrys. This. Is. Capitalism.

(There's a huge irony in seeing right libertarians bashing Bill Gates and his company's products. What, did the government not regulate Microsoft enough? LOL.)

Anonymous said...

Jobs is simply Gates in a roll-necked sweater. Most Apple users are too blinded by the shiny stuff to notice.

Devil's Kitchen said...


If that's the case, then where is the shiny stuff blinding Windows users?

Oh, you mean there isn't any?

So, wait, Apple users are—for some reason that is nothing to do with Apple products or Steve Jobs's contribution to said products—totally blinded by some shiny stuff that only Apple users can see.


So, either Apple users are uniquely credulous or... Well, or there's something special about Apple products.

I'll let you make up your own mind. But, you see, I don't care: I have lovely shiny things and you don't.

Have fun.


Anonymous said...

Jesus, I never thought I would hear DK make a post that sounded like and embattled dictators spokesman, but there ya go. 'there are no tanks in Baghdad, I'm a libertarian but my master has a right to use corporatism to make iTunes profitable' blaa blaa blaa, 'and all the alternatives to the great leader mean I have to RTFM, whaa, whaaa, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... mummy help me...'

Devil's Kitchen said...

A g'nother Anon,

I like and support Apple because they innovate. Even if patents did not exist, Apple would still produce superb products.


Anonymous said...

I wish Mr. Jobs well, his contributions to the world are monumental, and although I have never (or indeed intend to) touch an Apple product, I respect how he has helped revolutionise so many fields and areas. I hope Apple can keep providing the products it's renowned for.

Going slightly off-topic, I just want to quickly ask you, DK- a intense dislike of Windows due to (what seems to me, clarify if I'm wrong) a very minute experience.

Although starting a Mac Vs. PC row is not an intention of mine, I do think that a (relatively) mild thing like how to set up a network or such, or the qualms you have with the (typical) PC aesthetic design and interface of the OS is not really something to judge an entire operating system and it's users on.

The Windows operating system offers a huge amount of customization (both on the software and hardware front)and huge library third-party software make it a great choice for many people. Macs cater to a very nice part in the computing market- web and graphic designers, casual users, to those who really don't care about computing or maintaining and upgrading one.

I'd say the PC is an extremely important product for those who need more than that- developers, coders, gamers, professors, scientists, and even many office workers.

The Mac's restrictions on third-party software and customisation, along with it's huge price, alienate a large segment of the market. Mainly, enthusiasts and heavy users.

I think acknowledging the differences between the platforms and understanding their markets is key.

Anonymous said...

> where is the shiny stuff blinding Windows users?

Did I say there was any? You demonstrate the common practice of defining the benefits of Apple as reaction to Microsoft. Microsoft's arrogance comes from its market dominance, Apple's from it's users' willingness to put up with the restrictions it imposes on them, but if not for the former, the latter would be a more difficult task.

> either Apple users are uniquely credulous or... Well, or there's something special about Apple products.

False dichotomy. Both are simultaneously possible. However, I'd strongly contend that most Apple users focus on the strengths of individual products to the exclusion of any consideration of Apple's wider motives.

> I have lovely shiny things and you don't.

Being outside the MS/Apple worlds I have a bewildering choice of shiny stuff.

> Have fun.

Have fun while you're still allowed to.

Charles said...

Apple have shown that design matters, for which they deserve massive props. Before the iMac, every single computer whether it was a Windows PC, Apple or Linux box, was as ugly as sin. Not something I really wanted parked in my living room, so all my first computers were relegated to a dark corner where their ugliness didn't intrude.

Apple changed that, they proved that if you made something beautiful people would buy it, even if it cost more than an otherwise identical competitor. This attention to design is what set Jobs out from the rest - the iPhone could do NOTHING that other phones couldn't do. But it was, and is, a gorgeous piece of tech. Same with the iPad, and iOS.

That is not to put down Apple, but to say that Gates is somehow less of a business man is bollocks. If Jobs were better then Apple would have become the dominant player, it was due to Gates' business skills that 90% of people use Windows. Even though it's crap.

On a side note, I work in CG and Linux is my choice of OS. I remember using Macs a few years ago (at a former employers) for some post-pro work and I was shocked by how often the bloody things crashed. I swear, it was worse than Windows.

Anonymous said...

i hope he dies

Captain Fatty said...


The Mac's restrictions on third-party software

True, there are restrictions on software for the iPhone if you want to sell it in the App Store. With Lion there will be some restrictions, ie sandboxing, if you want to sell your software through the App Store. The reason is to prevent malware (cf the Android app store which released large amounts of the stuff into the wild). If you don't want to sell your software through the App store then there are no restrictions.

and although I have never (or indeed intend to) touch an Apple product,

I just want to quickly ask you, DK- a intense dislike of Windows due to (what seems to me, clarify if I'm wrong) a very minute experience.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Captain Fatty

Captain Fatty said...


That is not to put down Apple, but to say that Gates is somehow less of a business man is bollocks.

That's the trouble. Gates is a business man, as is Ballmer (or whatever his name is) and so is the rest of the Microsoft leadership. Jobsie is not a such a hard core business man. At the WWDC keynotes for the last 5 or 6 years the take home point has been that we (at Apple) are working hard so that you (the attendees/Apple fanboys) can go out and create great apps. The Microsoft message has been we (Microsoft) want Microsoft to be the biggest (and only) and the most dominant; buy our stuff.

Just my 2 cents.

Captain Fatty

Edward King said...

Speaking of Bill Hicks, "Revelations" was shown on BBC4 recently and is available for download from iPlayer.

Oh, and Captain Fatty, Bill Gates is a genuine geek who was still writing code when he was the billionaire CEO of a billion-dollar corporation. There's some of BillG's code in Windows 95; written when he was the richest man in the world.

Woz was the true geek at Apple, not Jobs.

Roger Thornhill said...

"the iPhone could do NOTHING that other phones couldn't do"

In the words of the infamous bard, bollocks.


Full-on browser?

Conversational chat?

Inertial scrolling?

The whole rotational gig

All these seen somewhere before?

The fact is the iPhone was revolutionary. it is like saying the iPod did nothing other MP3 players could.

That is like saying Television did not introduce any new technology (it did not). The combination and application of existing tech is often what it is about.

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Blue Eyes said...

1) Jobs will still be in the background, just not mucking in with the accounts and supply-chain.

2) I really, really want a MacBook Air.

Anonymous said...

Captain Fatty:

I never intend to touch an Apple product due to the fact that I use computers for functions that many Macs can't achieve (ie, computer gaming, modelling, and a huge amount of freeware), and I lack the money to justify purchasing a Mac- I don't have any hatred for Macs that I believe DK has about Windows; merely I happen not to be in need of one.

Anonymous said...

Apple is a bad bad company and you should be ashamed for loving them so much.

Charles said...

Roger Thornhill,

You must be over 40, I'm guessing?

With the exception of multi-touch, my old Palm TX was capable of all those things. The only thing it really lacked was a GSM radio. If they'd been smart enough to shove one in the TX, rather than making that crap Treo, then they would probably still be around as a company in their own right, rather than a recently closed division of HP

Anonymous said...

Here's the mac equivalent of Create a New Network Place on XP

Is that really any better? If you're a technical user, neither is problematic. If you're not, neither is particularly easy.