Is Apple destined to repeat the misfortunes of the Jobs-less early 90s?

Larry Ellison of Oracle fancies himself a bit of an oracle, but his all-seeing views on the future of Apple take their foundation from the company’s past. Asked during an interview with CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose about the future of Apple without his good friend Steve Jobs, Ellison said we have already seen that story play out.

He was referencing to the period during the late 1980s and early 90s in which Jobs was not a player at Apple. This marked one of the biggest down periods in the company’s history. It wasn’t until Jobs’ return in the later 90s that Apple started to see its fortunes turn around. Ellison believe that without Jobs, Apple is destined to experience the same sort of troubles.

While Apple’s future is certainly a bit less clear without Jobs, he built a strong foundation with the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad that should allow the company to ride high for quite some time. As with all things, though, only time will tell of Tim Cook and company have what it takes to carry on the legacy of one of tech’s greatest innovators.

[via AllThingsD]



  • Renkman

    Different times. I really don’t see Apple repeating history

    • James Rogers

      Jobs went to great lengths to make sure the 90s weren’t repeated when he left. Their training program is second to none, and indoctrinates new employees with his principles for how Apple should be run. He hand-picked the majority of the current team, and put his stamp on everything the company does.

      This was not the case when Jobs was forced out years ago. He got too focused on one area (Macs), and was marginalized. It was easy to push him out the door, because the company wasn’t set up in his image. Apple was a much more conventional company then. With the way it is set up now, and as much money as they have, I don’t see Apple falling off the map the way some like Ellison predict.

      • jaiotu

        Steve Jobs was marginalized before he became focused on the Mac. Jobs took over the Macintosh project because it was a sneaky way to stay relevant in a company that no longer wanted him. He was allowed to take on the Macintosh so that he would be out of the picture for the development of the Lisa which is what Apple’s management thought was Apple’s future. The Macintosh prolonged Steve’s involvement with Apple.

  • phatmanXXL [15,500+ comments]

    Apple can just patent troll for the next 50 years.

  • jaiotu

    In many ways, Steve Jobs was a snake-oil salesman. Only Steve’s snake-oil actually did the things he promised. If Apple can continue making products that change the way people live, work and think about themselves while effectively communicating how amazing those products are Apple will have no problems. If they think just taking last years products and repackaging them in different form factors (think the new Mac Pro cylinder) they are missing their target consumers and just selling to their most hardcore fans.

    • James Rogers

      I agree that it takes vision for a company to be wildly successful, but that vision doesn’t have to come from the CEO. In fact, I would say that is rare among even tech companies. If you look at Google, for instance, many of their biggest products and innovations outside of search come from their many engineers, or from outside acquisitions.

      One dramatic shift at Apple that Jobs spearheaded upon his return to the company was to elevate design to a position equivalent to marketing and engineering, which usually get to dictate how products are developed and built in most companies. Apple was the same in the 90s according to Jony Ive’s statements in the Issacson book and interviews after Jobs’ death. In promoting the value of great design, and making that a real priority in product development, Jobs made it easier for the best ideas to rise to the top, even if they come from lower level personnel. They are less likely to get lost in the beaurocratic shuffle. As long as Apple is still able to attract top level talent, they should be able to push forward into new product areas.