Urgh, so it turns out that Steve Jobs' health -- which torpedoed his traditional Macworld speech, but which supposedly was on the mend -- turns out to be "more complex than [he] originally thought," and as a result is taking a leave of absence until June. As John Gruber notes, "it's very difficult to read this any other way than that where Jobs says 'more complex', he means 'worse'."
Obviously we all wish Jobs a speedy recovery; but just as naturally, this brings out questions to the fore about the succession at Apple, a company uniquely tied to its CEO. In his note on the matter, Jobs says that COO Tim Cook will take over day-to-day operations, and that Jobs will continue to "remain involved in major strategic decisions." Beyond that, Macworld Editorial Director Jason Snell has an interesting take in an interview with Advertising Age:
Let me turn that question around a little bit. I think the entire idea of a "replacement" for Steve Jobs is misguided. Let's just all admit that Jobs is a unique sort of franchise player. He does a lot of things really well. If he were to reduce his role at Apple for whatever reason -- I like to imagine that someday he'll just buy a tropical island like a James Bond villain and retire -- he will not be replaced by any one person, but by different people in different roles. Tim Cook appears to be the operations and management guy, the adult supervision. Jonathan Ive has a similar design taste to Jobs. Phil Schiller actually does a pretty good job as a demo guy -- I think most tech companies would love having Phil Schiller be their keynote guy. Jonathan Ive is a brilliant designer -- I don't think he needs to be a CEO or good with a clicker on stage in front of thousands of people.