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Can we lay the ghost of Steve Jobs to rest, already?

Can we lay the ghost of Steve Jobs to rest, already?
He's no longer with us, guys, get over it: Steve Jobs with the MacBook Air, 2008. (Tony Avelar/AFP/Getty Images)

With a new book coming out slagging Apple CEO Tim Cook for not being Steve Jobs (it's called "Haunted Empire"--get it?), you should expect lots of specious comparisons of the reigns of the two Apple chieftains to reach the popular press.

John Gruber at Daring Fireball points out one common misconception in a laudable effort to throttle it in its crib: the notion that since Jobs' death, Apple's "share price has slumped and it has lost its title of the world’s most valuable firm."

This claim comes from a Time magazine interview with Jonathan Ive, Apple's design chief, whose role at the company has only expanded since Jobs' death. (The statement is made by author John Arlidge, not Ive.) As Gruber points out, both parts of the statement are dead wrong.

The fact is that Apple's stock closed at $378.25 on Oct. 5, 2011, the day Jobs died. As we write Wednesday, it's at $533.73. That's a gain of 41%. Moreover, Apple today is indeed the "world's most valuable firm" as measured by the standard metric, market capitalization. Apple's market cap is $476 billion; the runners up, at a fair distance behind, are Exxon Mobil ($409 billion) and Google ($404 billion).

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It's true that Apple has "slumped" from its peak of over $700 per share, reached in 2012. That milestone came during Cook's tenure too. As Gruber observes, Arlidge is plainly striving to say Apple has slumped since the Jobs era, and that's flatly untrue. Can't Time check these things?

Moreover, as Horace Dediu of Asymco observes, Apple's iPhone remains the cash-generating monster of the smartphone sector, producing more than 60% of the profits on less than 40% of the revenue in the entire market--on roughly 10% of all units shipped. Most CEOs, Jobs included, would kill for a "slump" like that.

The author of the Ive interview in Time writes, "Some speculate that, without Jobs, Apple has lost its golden touch." Speculation is cheap. Numbers are hard. But the numbers tell the right story.

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