Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

The charismatic figure, credited with turning around the fortunes of the technology giant, steps dow

Steve Jobs, the man credited with turning Apple into one of the most industry-shaping companies around, has resigned from his position as chief executive officer.

The 55 year old, who co-founded the technology giant from a garage, has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since January. He previously survived pancreatic cancer. In his resignation letter, Jobs said:

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.

In a statement, Apple said that Tim Cook, who has been running things in Jobs' absence, will take over as chief executive, while Jobs will move to the newly-created role of chairman.

The decision has sent shockwaves through the business world, with shares in Apple dropping by at least 5 per cent in overnight trading.

Perhaps more than any other current corporate leader, Jobs is closely identified with the success of his company. Seen as a visionary, Jobs' many admirers say that his talent lies in predicting what consumers want before they know they want it.

He ran Apple twice. The first time was from its creation in 1976 until he was ousted in 1985, and the second was 20 years later when he returned to rescue the floundering company. He successfully turned Apple round, releasing a series of iconic products. The iPod has reshaped the music industry, while the iPhone changed expectations of what a mobile phone should do.

Earlier this month, Apple briefly became the world's most valuable company, overtaking the oil giant Exxon Mobil, worth over $350bn. It didn't last long, but is astonishing given that Apple sells things that people want, rather than necessities like oil.

Over at the Telegraph, Shane Richmond suggests that it is important not to overstate the impact of Jobs' departure:

Apple's innovations over the last decade are the result of the company's structure: a small team at the top, focusing on a tightly-controlled number of products. Ideas can come from anywhere but those top executives spend a lot of time deciding what not to work on, to ensure that the company's resources aren't spread too thinly. Though Jobs played a key role in developing those working practices, the ideas are embedded deep within the company by this point. Apple's competitors might be hoping that the company's fortunes will change for the worse without Jobs but I wouldn't bet on it.

Whether Apple continues to hit the mark remains to be seen, but the technology industry has lost one of its most charismatic figures.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Show Hide image

What Donald Trump could learn from Ronald Reagan

Reagan’s candidacy was built on more than his celebrity. Trump not only lacks experience as an elected official, he isn’t part of any organised political movement.

“No one remembers who came in second.” That wisdom, frequently dispensed by the US presidential candidate Donald Trump, came back to haunt him this week. Trump’s loss in the Iowa Republican caucuses to the Texas senator Ted Cruz, barely beating Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for second place, was the first crack in a campaign that has defied all expectations.

It has been a campaign built on Trump’s celebrity. Over the past eight months, his broad name recognition, larger-than-life personality and media savvy have produced a theatrical candidacy that has transfixed even those he repels. The question now is whether that celebrity will be enough – whether a man so obsessed with being “Number One” can bounce back from defeat.

Iowa isn’t everything, after all. It didn’t back the eventual Republican nominee in 2008 or 2012. Nor, for that matter, in 1980, when another “celebrity” candidate was in the mix. That was the year Iowa picked George H W Bush over Ronald Reagan – the former actor whom seasoned journalists dismissed as much for his right-wing views as for his “B-movie” repertoire. But Reagan regrouped, romped to victory in the New Hampshire primary and rode a wave of popular support all the way to the White House.

Trump might hope to replicate that success and has made a point of pushing the Reagan analogy more generally. Yet it is a comparison that exposes Trump’s weaknesses and his strengths.

Both men were once Democrats who came later in life to the Republican Party, projecting toughness, certainty and unabashed patriotism. Trump has even adopted Reagan’s 1980 campaign promise to “make America great again”. Like Reagan, he has shown he can appeal to evangelicals despite question marks over his religious conviction and divorces. In his ability to deflect criticism, too, Trump has shown himself as adept as Reagan – if by defiance rather than by charm – and redefined what it means to be “Teflon” in the age of Twitter.

That defiance, however, points to a huge difference in tone between Reagan’s candidacy and Trump’s. Reagan’s vision was a positive, optimistic one, even as he castigated “big government” and the perceived decline of US power. Reagan’s America was meant to be “a city upon a hill” offering a shining example of liberty to the world – in rhetoric at least. Trump’s vision is of an America closed off from the world. His rhetoric invokes fear as often as it does freedom.

On a personal level, Reagan avoided the vituperative attacks that have been the hallmark of Trump’s campaign, even as he took on the then“establishment” of the Republican Party – a moderate, urban, east coast elite. In his first run for the nomination, in 1976, Reagan even challenged an incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford, and came close to defeating him. But he mounted the challenge on policy grounds, advocating the so-called “Eleventh Commandment”: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Trump, as the TV debates between the Republican presidential candidates made clear, does not subscribe to the same precept.

More importantly, Reagan in 1976 and 1980 was the leader of a resurgent conservative movement, with deep wells of political experience. He had been president of the Screen Actors Guild in the late 1940s, waging a campaign to root out communist infiltrators. He had gone on to work for General Electric in the 1950s as a TV pitchman and after-dinner speaker, honing a business message that resonated beyond the “rubber chicken circuit”.

In 1964 he grabbed headlines with a televised speech on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater – a bright spot in Goldwater’s otherwise ignominious campaign. Two years later he was elected governor of California – serving for eight years as chief executive of the nation’s most populous state. He built a conservative record on welfare reform, law and order, and business regulation that he pushed on to the federal agenda when he ran for president.

All this is to say that Reagan’s candidacy was built on more than his celebrity. By contrast, Trump not only lacks experience as an elected official, he isn’t part of any organised political movement – which enhanced his “outsider” status, perhaps, but not his ground game. So far, he has run on opportunism, tapping in to popular frustration, channelled through a media megaphone.

In Iowa, this wasn’t enough. To win the nomination he will have to do much more to build his organisation. He will be hoping that in the primaries to come, voters do remember who came in second. 

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war