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Steve Jobs is missed, but Apple's stronger now than a year ago, analysts say

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 8, 2012
A year after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' death, the company has changed, analysts said.

Consistency is what analysts saw after reflecting on the last 12 months. They attributed that to Apple's long product development cycles and -- because of those timelines -- see evidence that the Cupertino company is still implementing ideas Jobs conceived or approved.

Apple acknowledged Steve Jobs' passing last year with his picture on the website.

"Take the MacBook Pro with the Retina screen," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, talking about the revamped laptop sporting a high-resolution screen that Apple rolled out in June. "Everything about it is Jobs. The price is shockingly high, but at the same time it's aggressive. That's a Jobs trick.

"And the iPad Mini, I think Jobs always had that in mind, no matter what smoke he blew," Gottheil said of the intensely-rumored smaller tablet most expect to launch in less than two weeks and go on sale in four.

Even the move to swap out Google Maps has Jobs' fingerprints all over it. "Jobs was known as someone who had come to hate Google and Android," said Gaspar.

"If you're looking at Maps, the execution of it might have been different with Jobs, but the idea of owning that, of taking that in-house because maps are crucial to mobility, that was Jobs," said Milanesi.

Last year, analysts and other pundits predicted that Apple would do just fine, thank you, without Jobs: His ideas and plans had surely packed the pipeline, enough for years.

That thought still holds.

"Think of a five- to 10-year timeline," advised Gottheil.

"They should be fine in the immediate future," said Gaspar. "But at some point, we'll find out how effective Cook is creatively. He's thrived at implementing [Jobs' ideas], but how is he at innovation, creativity?"

Gaspar argued, in fact, that 12 months is too soon to expound on where Apple is sans Jobs. "The bigger question is, 'Where is Apple next year?' Twelve months is not enough time to really judge what a CEO has done when the previous CEO had had everything laid out. Next year, I think, will be much more telling."

Cook, in other words, is still working in Jobs' shadow.

But by all the evidence, Apple continues to shine, even in that shadow, the analysts agreed.

"Apple is stronger now than 12 months ago," said Gottheil. "It's not in any way a flawed or doomed enterprise without Jobs. It's still an amazing business, even though the genius is gone."

Gaspar, too, sees a stronger Apple. "They have more competition now, and that competition is moving at a rapid pace, and yet they have been able to keep hold of their markets," he said.


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