Steve Jobs taking leave of absence will let Apple’s core team shine

January 14, 2009

So Steve Jobs finally allowed himself to be seen as human. He took a leave of absence from Apple to address his health today. Frankly, this has been a long time coming. I am in awe that he postponed the inevitable for such a long time. He must have been busy training one heck of a replacement and back up team. I can’t wait to see how they do.

That said, you know that many will be selling off their Apple stock (APPL) tomorrow. Many sold it off today. I happen to agree with Robert Scoble – if you sell your Apple stock right now because of a temporary 30% dip on a bit of shocking news, you are an idiot. Now is the time to buy more Apple stock, not sell it. Sure, it means a long term investment with the economy the way it is, but that’s what stocks are supposed to be – long term investments, not short term gambling opportunities – and Apple is a heck of a good long term investment.

As I said earlier, the biggest challenge to Mac right now has nothing to do with Steve Jobs or his health, and everything to do with keeping their operating system relevant and innovative. Whether or not Microsoft can hold up its promises and deliver Windows 7 as an OS X contender once it is out of beta is yet to be seen. That means that Apple and the team that Jobs has been training to take over has a few months to come up with something extraordinary to keep their rightfully earned place as top dog in the operating system game. Resting on their iPod and iPhone laurels just won’t cut it right now.

Some of my backseat driving-style suggestions for Apple in the coming weeks include:

” Better visibility of the new core team in the press. Jobs has been keeping the replacement team and strategy on the down low, but you know it’s been cooking all this time. Show it off. We can handle it.

” Immediate release of Snow Leopard, which better have some netbook readiness in addition to leaving Windows 7 and its copycat features in the dust. Netbooks don’t matter for most of us, but the few that want the dinky little things are noisy – make them happy.

” Make a grand goodwill gesture and drop the 30 cent charge for getting rid of DRM in previously purchased iTunes songs. Throw us a bone and do it for free (credit back those that have already paid). This will also help those of us who have iTunes downloads like the U2 box set that is no longer carried to reap the benefits of the switch to DRM-free. Trust me, this is a gesture that will cost Apple little and will reach beyond Mac users and into Windows users as well – it’s worth it.

” Come out with an Apple retrospective in iTunes, for free download, just for fun. Honor Steve Jobs by putting up all of the commercials ever made in a package, or all of the songs used in the iPod commercials, for free.

I think this is going to be an exciting year for Apple. This is a scrappy company built on innovation and perceived as the underdog we all love to root for. What better time to show off that scrappy nature and resourcefulness than going into year two (or more, depending who you ask) of a recession with the company’s “face” no longer at the helm?

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