Apple after Steve Jobs. Who will be the new dictator?

Image I love my eleven inch Macbook Air. But when I see a grey suited, white shirted, maroon tied elderly conservative gentleman with an Apple Macbook Air on his lap it kind of does something to me. It makes me want to distance myself from my own Macbook Air. And that’s not good for Apple.

There’s a growing sense that Apple is losing its shine. And ubiquity has a lot to do with it. It’s when successful brands become the victim of their own success.

Apple has a few other problems too. And they all point in the same direction.

Last month I spent some time in the office of the Global CMO of one of the world’s best brands. A brand he can fairly say he had a major hand in creating. The walls of his Amsterdam office were lined with ads, posters, packaging and other bits of branded material in a good sample of the world’s major languages. Consistent look. Consistent feel. Like any global brand. But not this watered down, middle of the road, lowest common denominator kind of consistency. This was consistently with attitude. Consistently with edge. Consistently with point of view. Consistently with style. Like a handful of great global brands.

This is an expressive, compelling, interesting CMO. Some call him opinionated. I call him a man with an opinion – with the independent mind to form it and with the individual courage to express and defend it. A rare breed in a global corporate world rushing towards boring sameness.

“That work is all mine. I am the only person who will put his aesthetic stamp on it. And I don’t care whether mine is the best stamp or not. But I know it needs the stamp of one man.”

Spot on.

You’ve probably read the Steve Jobs biography.

Yes it’s true. He was a dictator.

A dictator for the consumer.

A man who trusted his insight sufficiently to make major decisions without the crutch of research. A man who, when asked what were his criteria for approving a new product launch, replied, “if I am proud to show it to my family, then I launch.”

A man who operated as much with his analytical left brain as he did with his holistic right brain. A rare marketer. An even more rare leader.

The world is suffering from a lack of leadership. Those rare left brain/right brain hybrids who see the big picture as well as the parts. Those with enough humanity to intuitively understand human nature. Those with the analytical skills to deconstruct and reconstruct the world to make it, in a big or small way, a better place. Those with the ability to win support. Not because they present a watered down middle of the road point of view that can’t be rejected but can be ignored. But because they present a point of view that can’t be ignored.

Apple after Steve Jobs.

Who will be the new dictator?

8 thoughts on “Apple after Steve Jobs. Who will be the new dictator?

  1. Christos Panagoulakos ( The Netherlands)

    Having worked for 15 years at Apple ,before and during the Job’s era, I kind of agree there is a need of a new dictator to continue the success Job’s left ( when he left us for good). Though maybe the real question here should be “don’t we like change”? Apple’s innovation is one thing but the world is changing fast and even the Steve Job’s model may come to be obsolete in few years so Apple perhaps is trying now the next big think in leadership? Just food for thought.

    Reply
  2. Paul Chronopoulos

    I come from the Windows world. Back from the days of the IBM PC and the Apple II. A tech junkie that cried like a lost puppy when Microsoft junked its powerful Windows Mobile platform for the useless Windows Phone reboot that was ( and still is ) all flash and little substance. I played in the Android world and reveled in the openness of the platform and its possibilities. I grinned silently to myself like a kid in a candy store now that the three tech giants ( Apple, Microsoft and Google ) were all finally playing in the same sandbox. What exciting times lay ahead !! Apple to me was for all the tech-clueless who followed the masses just because “They” say Apple is the coolest, the BEST! What do they know ?The influential “They” committee marching to the drum of the Apple mighty marketing machine. I used to cringe when Steve Jobs would use terms like “It just works”. Really ? Apple products have something special besides an army of zombie followers ?

    Well, I have come to realize that they do have something special beyond the superficial. Really, really solid products. Something their competitors seem to lack. Making up for with a strategy of “new and improved” recycled solutions to their faulty products. In my humble opinion, Apple indeed needs to start feeding the ferocious mass market driven “what’s new” appetite BUT while NEVER making the mistake of sacrificing quality. Quality being the “secret sauce” of thier products. The “Magic” that makes their products “Just Work”.

    I still use Windows cause I have to and now Mac also cause I have to and only carry ONE phone ( I laugh when I see people with more than one modern smartphone stuffed in their pockets ?!)

    My hardware of choice ? Mac Pro running both Windows and Mac OS
    My mobile ? iPhone 5.

    Why ?

    Simple. Cause it “Just Works”. Yes, I said it. Day in, day out, relentlessly, as I need MY tools ( yes TOOLS not toys ) to serve me. THEY JUST WORK. Every time I stray to try a new laptop or smartphone enticed by the marketing promise of greatness, I bite and foolishly follow the masses in search of perfection only to be eventually disappointed and return to my reliable workhorses that help me get through my long days.

    Reply
  3. webandother

    I believe Apple is suffering now and run out of ideas. How thin/tal can you make the iPhone and how much of a WOW factor can that still offer?

    Apple needs to innovate again. Yes, the profits soared but now what.

    Reply
  4. Lea Tsahakis

    Can’t the same argument be used in the political debate over the Greek leadership crisis ? My father who retired in Sparta, but lived the majority of his adult life in the U.S. has always said,
    ” Greece needs the leadership and vision of a benevolent dictator to find its way out and up again. “

    Reply
  5. Lea Tsahakis

    I meant in theory of course.
    Please reference the article by Jeffrey Wiinters : Oligarchy in the U.S. ?

    Reply
  6. steveg

    Interesting to see Microsoft coming back with new ideas, shapes and designs. Unfortunately people think more about brand and style then functionality and ease of use. I have used all the other Androids and Apples except Blackberry. I was the guy that people laughed at when I took out my Dell Streak 5 inch phablet. Now everyone is going 5 inches or more. Microsoft have had their amount of flops with the Zune (best mp3 in the market) and their Kin Social Media phone (supposedly sold only 5 in the whole US) but they have pushed through with the Xbox and I’m liking the look of the Surface tablet ( its just amazing to fling this tablet around with its magnetic keyboard)… but waiting on the Surface professional to go on sale in Australia. The partnership with Nokia have pushed them both forward in design and they are slowly making in roads in sales. I’ve never liked Apple look. They have been stale for number of years but make money by forcing people to upgrade to new machines to run their software and allm the hype with it. I’ve never understood why people have to run Windows on a Mac.

    I run a 5 year old PC running windows 7 ( Windows 8 is on another solid state harddrive but I don’t use it as I don’t have a touchscreen) and I use a HTC Blue Windows 8 X phone because its honestly the simplest phone to use on the market. yeah ok it doesn’t have instagram…. But I can take a photo at a flick of a button or find restaurants quicker then any other phone on the market with less “gestures”

    Reply
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