Let’s be absolutely clear. The sudden resignation of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO means absolutely nothing for the next iPad, nor does it portend bad things or stark changes for its follow-up device, should that ever see the market.
This isn’t another HP. iTunes and iOS is not going the way of webOS, and Apple most certainly won’t stop producing innovative products.
If the rumors are true, a next-generation iPad is set to hit the market either this fall or early next year, be it the iPad Pro, iPad HD or iPad 3. It will most likely have a higher resolution screen, perhaps something approaching or surpassing 300 pixels per inch (up from the iPad 2’s 132 ppi) and will probably have a quad-core processor, keeping it in line with those NVIDIA Kal-El Android tablets set to launch around the same time. Also, Apple will probably offer a 4G LTE model along with a Wi-Fi-only device.
These and other next-generation iPad details are all but finalized in the office at Cupertino, and Apple is probably performing field tests and squashing bugs as you read this. Apple claims that Jobs will transition to a spot as the company’s Chairman of the Board, and inside reports indicate he plans to be very active in that role. This suggests that Steve Jobs could even still take the stage in the fall or winter to introduce the next iPad as only he can, touting the device’s “magical” qualities while taking backhanded shots at the competition.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if famously forward-thinking Apple already had near finalized plans for the next next-generation iPad and the device after that.
This is not to downplay the significance of Steve Jobs or his contributions to Apple. It’s widely believed he had final say on all of Apple’s design choices, often vetoing those that didn’t meet with his aesthetic tastes. He pushed Apple to ditch what were then thought to be important product features, including a 3.5-inch disk drive (iMac), removable battery (iPod and iPhone), optical disk drive (MacBook Air), and USB input (iPad). All this, to make no mention of the fact that while at the helm as CEO, Apple transformed from a nearly bankrupt maker in mediocre products in 1997 to perhaps the most influential and financially successful tech company in the world.
But Apple is a large company, and the iPad, iPhone, and the rest of Apple’s successful product lineup were not created by one man. Jonathan Ive, Apple’s principal designer is still on board, and he is credited with the look and feel of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Still, the fact remains that Apple’s products were crafted by talented teams of engineers and designers that have been steeped in the Apple culture of innovation. Steve Jobs was at the helm for 14 years and he remains chairman of the board. Apple will not stop being Apple because of this news of his resignation as CEO.
Taking over for Jobs is Tim Cook, Apple’s now former COO and the man tapped in the past to fill in for Jobs during the CEO’s recent leaves of absence. Tim Cook has a well-earned reputation for being a shrewd businessman. He managed Apple’s supply chain end to end, and notably prepaid $1.25 billion to suppliers in order to corner the flash memory market prior to the iPod Nano launch. He knew the product would be a success, and by gobbling up all the parts and locking them in for years, he effectively kept competitors at bay. He also tightened Apple’s manufacturing process by moving suppliers closer to factories and working with contractors, enabling Apple to make drastic devices changes quickly and efficiently. It’s also worth noting that he filled in for Jobs for six crucial months in 2009 during the iPad and iPhone 4 development.
Cook may not inspire the same cult of personality Apple loyalists place upon Jobs, but that doesn’t change the products Apple produces. Apple’s chief rivals certainly respect his abilities. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Dell and Motorola wooed the executive. Want to bet HP would like to have the forwarding-thinking Cook in the fold as they transition away from hardware?
Jobs is out, Cook is in, and Apple is still Apple. Apple’s stock price may tumble on the news, but rest assured that the iPad will continue to dominate tablet sales for the time being and the tech world will pay no less attention to Apple’s next product launch, which will mostly likely be in October for the iPhone 5.