Much talk circulated this week after Steve Jobs announced he will go on yet another medical leave from his job at Apple”¦ and this one is indefinite. Journalists and bloggers have long speculated what exactly Jobs means to the company, with some trying to poke holes in the theory that the turtle-necked one is some great and powerful Oz. We tend to believe that no person can single-handedly run a multi-billion-dollar operation on his own, regardless of how much nerd cred he has.
Nevertheless, international stocks in Apple dropped on Monday when the news broke, and a whole lot of handwringing went down, too. This reaction, warranted or not, says a lot about Jobs as the figurehead for the brand.
The thought of Steve Jobs leaving Apple for good or even being out of commission for a long spell is unnerving for Mac addicts. Part of Apple’s identity is the image of Jobs tinkering away in the Mac laboratories until he comes up with something like a missile-launching iPad or an iPhone that can raise your children. So God forbid he should leave the company. It would be like Pine Valley without Erica Kane, Starkist without Charlie the Tuna, Trix without the silly rabbit. You get the picture.
Brand enthusiasts had whipped themselves into a frenzy by Monday night, with business writers busy throwing logs on the fire. Bloomberg published a veritable timeline of every time the mogul fell ill since 2003, while ABC News tried to unmask Tim Cook, the T-shirt wearing stand-in for Jobs. But, as the levelheaded folks at NPR were quick to note, the brand pretty much runs itself. The global domination of Apple is intense and strong; the brand remains one of the most recognizable in the world.
We’re with NPR on this one. Jobs should take care of his health first and let his millions of well-paid flying monkeys take care of a brand that already runs like clockwork. But what do you think? Is Apple in danger of becoming Jobs-less? Would your brand loyalty change if he stays gone for good?