The absence of Steve Jobs from the upcoming Macworld has caused quite a stir. Rumors regarding his non-attendance range from Jobs being fired to his impending death. While I sincerely hope neither is true, leaving Macworld behind and removing Jobs as the focal point is the right thing to do in any case.
It’s hard to think of another company where the face of the CEO has become the face of the corporation. For a long time, this has worked in Apple’s favor since Jobs is such a charismatic individual and world-class spokesman. This is not without drawbacks, however. Since Apple = Jobs in many people’s minds, the company tends to go as Steve goes. Even on an admitted hoax, Apple’s stock takes a nosedive. It may be time to back away from the revival-tent events with Jobs as the preacher.
While Jobs may be a bit of an iron fist, there is a team of insanely great talent behind him producing the objects of techno-lust that Jobs unveils like a master magician each Macworld. It’s time to let the team speak for itself. These people are not Oompa Loompas to Jobs’ Willie Wonka – they are brilliant and articulate folks who are perfectly capable of pointing out why you gots to get you some of their products (even if they lack Jobs’ panache).
While Jobs is indeed a “Wizard of Ahhs,” he is also a bit of a divisive figure. While those of us who believe in his sensibilities are thankful he has brought us Apple, NeXT, Pixar, and Apple again, those in the other camp see him as a bit of a snake oil salesman. Too much hype, even for a truly outstanding product, can devalue it in some people’s eyes.
In addition, Apple has made great strides increasing its reach to the general public. Instead of press-focused media events, Apple could unveil new products online or at events “apple-cast” to the many retail stores it has in place. Let the new products arrive at a party rather than a Sermon on the Mount.
So, while I have my fingers crossed that Steve Jobs is okay and will continue to play a role at Apple, I think it’s time for the company to develop a voice larger than Steve’s. Hopefully, the insanely great things will keep coming. Boom.