Steve Jobs is gone. He passed away too young and undoubtedly with plenty of innovative ideas still brewing. It comes as no surprise but it's now a reality. (See: Apple Founder Steve Jobs Dies: Reflections on His Legacy)
Jobs' imprint and influence on Apple will remain for years. However, his management team can no longer count on his presence, opinion and impeccable taste.
How will that affect Apple?
As Aaron Task and Henry Blodget discuss in the accompanying clip, the near term is not a concern. Apple will remain one of the most valued companies in the world thanks to strong sales of Macs, iPhones and iPads. The company appears to have incredible momentum over the next few product cycles, thanks largely to Jobs' technological vision and marketing brilliance.
The technology sector is arguably the most competitive industry in the world. Steve Jobs' genius was creating products no one even knew they wanted before Apple built them. He did not invent the personal computer, the digital music player, smartphones and or tablets; but his creations so fundamentally changed the market, he might as well have. (See: iPod, iPhone, iPad) No one knows better than Apple how one product enhancement or advancement can change consumer demand in inconceivable ways. (See: Blackberry vs iPhone)
Can Apple continue to innovate without Jobs?
The iPhone enjoys 27% market share in the smartphone category, according to the latest comscore stats. That's second only to Google's Android with 44% market share. Rest assured, Google is looking to increase their piece of the pie with the acquisition of Motorola Mobility. And while the iPhone 4S will likely fly off the shelves, it did disappoint some hoping to see an iPhone 5. Shares of Apple fell following Tuesday's announcement and were down modestly Wednesday morning in reaction to Jobs' death.
In the tablet category, the iPad dominates. It controls 73% of the market and expects to have at least 50% share through 2014, says industry research firm Gartner. The competition has so far been weak but Amazon's new Kindle Fire may change that. Even if it's not a game changer, competitors will continue to try.
This is not to say Apple will fail without Steve Jobs. They are still in good hands. Apple certainly has talented engineers, product managers and executives. CEO Tim Cook has been steering the ship for the last several years as Jobs battled his health issues. The company has excelled during this time. Another integral piece of the puzzle, Jonathan Ive remains. Ive is the lead designer behind just about every great product Apple developed in the last decade and half.
In the end, the only thing we know is: things will be different. And, as Steve Jobs proved, different has the potential to be much better.