The Walt and Steve Comparison

Similar to the departure of Walt Disney – a unique creative force whose company has carried on for years — Apple without Steve will go on.

So writes Mike Abramsky of RBC Capital Markets. Abramsky goes on to note that consumers are likely to get behind the new CEO, Tim Cook, and continue to buy Apple’s products. However, as someone who purchased his first Mac during the troublesome SculleySpindler era, I hold a certain level of concern over Apple’s future. Some have already wondered if Apple’s products will still be “sexy” in the coming years. I wonder if Apple will start introducing lines of marginal products again.

What Abramsky seems to forget is the dark times between 1970 and 1985 at Disney; when Ron Miller, Walt’s own son-in-law and Roy Disney’s personal choice for successor, was at the helm. Can you name a successful Disney movie from that era? Shouldn’t be hard… there were 68 films released during that time. Just name three. The reason you probably can’t is because that 15-year period at the company was run by executives who were constantly stumbling around asking themselves, “what would Walt do?”.

I strongly encourage Tim Cook’s leadership team – don’t do that.

We really shouldn’t notice any notable difference in the products that will launch this year – they’ll still have Steve Jobs’ fingerprints on them. The first test will arrive in the next few years when products lacking Steve’s personal influence are brought to market. Will Apple have its very own “Million Dollar Duck”?

However, the most difficult test won’t come for several more years – once the folks who personally worked with Jobs begin leaving the company.

Ironically, much like Walt Disney was working on secretive mass-land purchases and plans to build fantastic workplaces of tomorrow – so was Steve. It will be very interesting to see how that particular Apple project develops over the coming years.

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“Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. Steve was such an ‘original,’ with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original, Disney has lost a member of our family, and I have lost a great friend.” -Bob Iger

“Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.” -Bill Gates

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