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Who Will Replace Steve Jobs As Apple CEO?

by Sean P. Aune | January 17, 2011January 17, 2011 3:08 pm PDT

While every one wishes Apple CEO Steve Jobs a speedy recovery from whatever his medical leave entails, one can’t help but to wonder who would be the anointed one to step in and replace him as CEO should he have to step down.

While Steve Jobs and Apple have become synonymous over the years with Apple to the point that you sometimes think he is the only person who works there, the truth of the matter is that Apple is a vast corporation with business concerns around the world.  While we don’t feel that Steve Jobs would ever step down from the role of CEO, a job he was once booted out of and had to fight his way back to, the stockholders and employees have to at least ponder his replacement should he ever choose to turn the reigns of power over.

In his letter to the employees today, Mr. Jobs stated that he would remain as CEO and handle major strategic decisions, but the day to day operations would be turned over to the company’s COO, Tim Cook.  Mr. Cook has assumed the role before during Jobs’ 2004 bout with pancreatic cancer, and again in 2009 when he underwent a liver transplant.  Some even speculate that he actually handles the majority of the daily load at Apple already while Mr. Jobs focuses on the larger issues and working with Jonathan Ive on their award winning designs for products.

While Mr. Cook is certainly qualified to take the position from a business standpoint, he does lack the natural charisma that Steve Jobs exudes.  Say what you will about Apple and its products, but there is no denying that a key factor to the company’s success is Mr. Jobs’ ability to work up a crowd at his notoriously popular press events.  Mr. Cook is capable of making the presentations, but he does lack that “wow” factor we’ve come to expect from Apple employees up on a stage.

While other sites such as GigaOm go through and give you the pros and cons of each member of Apple’s executive board, I think it’s fairly clear that Steve Jobs has picked Tim Cook as the main to step up to the throne.  And make no mistake, I am not using the word “throne” in a hyperbolic way, Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO is like asking a king to abdicate his throne; it’s simply not going to happen on a whim.  Mr. Jobs made it very clear in his letter that he remains in his current role, but should the day come where he does finally step down, as much as others may hypothesize over who will succeed him, it’s obvious it will be Tim Cook.

With that said, I would bet we would see Jonathan Ive take over the bulk of the product unveilings in front of the media as he is the only one close to having Jobs’ ability to convey excitement to the crowd, but Cook will be a very present force at all of them.

What say you?  Do you think Steve Jobs would ever step down?  And if he did, would Tim Cook be his successor?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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