People talk a lot about what could happen if Steve Jobs leaves for real. Would they be able to keep the momentum? Would Apple collapse? Who could be the new CEO? The answer is right here, in these words:
"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can."
Read that again with this in mind: These are the words from a man who has been near death at least two times in a very short period of time. A man who had to survive a traumatic transplant, with one foot in the grave. And yet, he doesn't close his letter saying "Thank you for your support" or some other generic phrase. The last message is to declare his true love.
It's very simple: What CEO in this world, facing the dramatic consequences of cancer and a scarring transplant, would end a letter declaring the love for his company in such a candid, absolute way?
None. Unless they have created that company from scratch and dedicate an entire life to it, nobody would.
With that in mind, investors, fanboys, journohacks, readers: Who cares who Apple's CEO could be? Have this clear in your mind: Nobody, absolutely nobody in the company or outside of it would be able to fill Steve's shoes. Not even Ive or Cook. They don't have the deep emotional link that Steve has. I doubt he even knows where he ends and the company starts.
This is not a matter of fanboyism. This is not a matter of making a god out of the man. No. It's just that nobody would be able to dedicate himself in flesh and soul to Apple in the same way that Steve Jobs does. Because he is in love with the company. The company is his kid. The company is himself at a very deep level. Not only because of his role in the decision making process—which is huge—but because it actually embodies his life. His birth, exile, and return. His ideas and his dreams. His glories and miseries, absolute successes and total failures. No matter how they try to stage it and pretend that everything would be fine, it will not be fine.
Apple will not be fine if he doesn't return. It will be OK for a few years, sure. The managers are good. The engineers are great. And I'm sure a new CEO would be very good too. But, if he doesn't return, they are bound to become a Sony in the long term.
Because he is the force that makes the whole thing tick. Out of pure love for the company he made.