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Apple's new task: To fight legends

Michael Gartenberg | Sept. 25, 2011
Much of the western world is on vacation, so it's usually the quiet before the storm that leads into the insanely busy holiday quarter.

August is known as a pretty quiet month for technology related news. Much of the western world is on vacation, so it's usually the quiet before the storm that leads into the insanely busy holiday quarter.

This year was the exception. In a space of two weeks, Google bought Motorola's mobility business, which includes set-top boxes and handsets. HP announced they were spinning off their PC business and leaving the smartphone and media tablet business (after shipping the TouchPad for only 47 days). Oh, and Apple's CEO Steve Jobs stepped down from the post, naming Tim Cook as his successor.

That last bit of news sent the media scrambling for implications and impact. After all, conventional wisdom dictates that Apple and Steve Jobs are one inseparable and inexorably tied entity and Apple's success over the last decade can only be attributed to the symbiotic combination of the two.

Let me be clear: No one can overestimate the role of Steve Jobs in the amazing transformation that Apple has undergone since his return to the late '90s. The iPod, iPhone, iPad and the total reinvigoration of the Mac occurred under his tenure. His triumphant return to Apple more than a decade after he was fired from the company he founded, his stint as interim CEO, and his final acceptance of the full title are truly the makings of a business legend that will live on and be taught for years.

Just as a generation told their children of momentous events such as seeing the Beatles at Shea Stadium, I tell my children of attending Steve's legendary Macworld keynotes and product introductions and of my conversations with him. Yes, the life and times of Steve Jobs are the things that legends are made of. In this lies Apple's greatest challenge ahead. The ability to fight legends.

"I will teach you... Until you are ready. To fight legends."--Ambassador Kosh, to Captain Sheridan

Despite all that Steve Jobs accomplished, it's critical to note that there is far more to Apple than any one individual... even if that individual is Steve Jobs. It's romantic to think of him toiling away in his garage at all hours of the day and night to create the product that would be the legendary "one more thing." Then after burning the midnight oil, he'd hop in the car and drive up to San Francisco and show it to an enthusiastic audience and world.

To do so is to forget the thousands of Apple employees who designed, built, marketed and sold those products as well. Names like Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller, Scott Forstall, Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Greg Joswiak and many others too numerous to mention all play key roles in creating and delivering Apple products to the world. To the best of my knowledge, none of them are going anywhere anytime soon.


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