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BNN asked some of Canada’s top chief executives what their thoughts are about Steve Jobs’ decision to resign from his post as Apple Inc.’s CEO and what it means for the company’s future.
Here is what they had to say:
LOUDON OWEN, MANAGING PARTNER, McLEAN WATSON; CHAIRMAN, i4i
“Steve Jobs comes from the most exciting generation of innovators ever – the hippies who believed anything was possible, and proved it. His magic was thought, belief, aspiration and attitude.
People love to talk about user interface (“human machine interface/interaction”), the style, flare and grace of apple products, and how it was about design and the user first, and the technology platform second.
But in my view, this is all superficial, transitional and unimportant. It could apply to any endeavor, not just computing. His legacy is the knowledge he imparted around the globe - that anything is possible, and that channeling energy is the most powerful force conceivable. The products and technology derived were just the materialistic output. Any products, even Apple products, will all die natural deaths, sooner rather than later, and be replaced when better substitutes come along.
What I hope will live on after his resignation is the daring and drive to innovate, change, challenge, sometimes threaten, but always push to improve what exists today. That was the raison d’être of his generation; those who eschewed the establishment and embraced bold visions of what could be. When he stands on a stage and talks about the next generation of products, why did people cheer, why did competitors squirm and why was there such a rush to be part of it?
Does anyone really care if Apple survives, flounders or grows to new highs? If so, why? Well, shareholders and employees certainly care, and they will likely go down the path of analyzing product lines, institutionalized innovation and market positioning.
As our company (i4i) successfully demonstrated in our victorious battle against Microsoft – which became a struggle to save a vigorous and vital patent system in the USA – other investors will now also ask good questions about sustainable intellectual property. And so they should.
But when the classic questions about organizational succession are asked, rather than looking at ‘core’ competency and experience, I personally wonder if Apple already has the next generation of hippie and rebel, and if not, where they will find her or him? Will Apple embrace this person, or this group, as the leader, or look upon them as an interesting museum artifact? And will the company around the corner be that much more daring and sublime, that they will carve out Apple’s current position and defeat them in a painful downward spiral of value destruction?
That is Apple’s challenge, and its opportunity.”
KUNAL GUPTA, CEO, POLAR MOBILE
“Steve Jobs provided true market leadership that not only transformed Apple but forced all of their competitors to innovate. The result has been a global ecosystem of new businesses focused on Apps that are thriving and did not exist even three years ago.”
MARK McQUEEN, CEO, WELLINGTON FINANCIAL
"For entrepreneurs everywhere, Steve Jobs stands out as an example of a founder who was able to evolve and grow alongside his company.
What can't be known is the impact that his personal touch had on the more recent products such as the iPod, iPhone or iPad. Were they his ideas? Did he change the designs of others, and would those original product designs have failed if not for Mr. Jobs' intervention?
And, now that Apple seems to have a hammerlock on so many areas of consumer technology, does it really matter?
Had it been given the chance, Standard Oil would have flourished long after the departure of John D. Rockefeller. The same may well be said of Mr. Jobs."