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The Mobile Gaming Mavens on the legacy of Steve Jobs and Apple's future prospects

Use the Force, Tim
The Mobile Gaming Mavens on the legacy of Steve Jobs and Apple's future prospects

The big news of the week wasn't a surprise in the sense everyone expected Steve Jobs to step down from day-to-day affairs at Apple at some point.

But that didn't make the analysis, speculation or praise any less voluminous.

So why not let the Mobile Gaming Mavens in on the fun?

"What do you think Steve Jobs' legacy will be and how will Apple survive without him?" we asked.

RIM business development director Volker Hirsch was quick to question our motivation.

"It feels a bit stale, me thinks. Isn't it a bit pretentious of us to chime into what often sounds like premature obituaries?" he argued.

"He is still alive, you know! And he still is Apple's chairman. Tim Cook has been running the show for a while now and Schiller [Philip] and Ive [Jonathan] are no lightweights either. Apple won't die any time soon."

He also nailed his colours to the mast, with the email legend, "Sent from my MacBook Air, which is my 9th Mac to date; oh: and I DID have a Newton!"

Deep roots

Nevertheless, an interesting debate did break out.

"How many people are there who are brilliant at envisioning how the future, a product or a service should be, as well as being able to chase the details even down to a colour or the font," said Joony Koo, previously of Korean publisher Com2uS.

"There are two qualities that are difficult to have in one person. I think it's a huge minus to Apple," he added, although explaining he didn't expect the situation to affect the short term: "iPhone 5, iPad 3 or the Macs that are coming out within the next year."

Bravo Games' CEO James Scalpello and Herocraft's Matt Meads pointed to the deep roots of Apple's corporate DNA.

"Apple's roadmap is set over the next couple of years and Jobs is still there. It's business as usual and Cook has been in the helm for a while," Scalpello argued.

"It'll be a shame not to see him clutching the latest piece of tech in front of an auditorium of journos and gadget geeks but Apple is going from strength to strength and that's largely down to the structure and key people the company has put in place over the last five years," Meads said.

Big man, bigger boots

Like Koo, Scalpello did see negatives though.

"One big test will be how Cook comes across to the public," he pondered. "The charisma that Steve Jobs injected into everything Apple did - especially the brilliant keynotes - has fundamentally helped the brand and drove early adopters. Public perception is an important piece of the pie and that may be something that is slightly harder to fix."

Wen Chen of developer Coconut Island also tried to balance the achievements of the man against the gap he leaves.

"Steve changed the personal computer industry, animation industry, music industry, mobile phone industry, game industry etc. He changed almost the whole digital industry," he pointed out.

"It's hard to estimate the consequence of the loss. I would say Apple's empire is going to collapse in 2-3 years because it's a one man company and no-one can take his place. Without Steve, Apple won't have any its own value any more."

Going out on top

HandyGames' Christopher Kassulke took a more personal focus.

"I have deepest respect for a person who is walking his own way, thinking differently and knows when to step down," he commented.

"He change the whole mobile games world so thanks for that Steve Jobs. You showed big companies that consumers want more than just an electronic device for calls."

"I will miss 'There is one more thing ...' presentations for sure."

Pocket God co-creator Dave Castelnuovo looked further forward and came up with a great metaphor for Jobs' future influence.

"Eventually Steve will really be gone and I think he will be a bit of an Obi-wan Kenobi in that he will have just as much, if not more impact after he is truly gone," he said.

"At this point he represents a crystal clear ideal that is burned into the minds of that entire company and I believe the phrase "What would Steve do?" will carry a lot of weight for years to come."

Can't stand the heat...

However, and not the first time, consultant Kevin Dent was happy to drop a big bag of cats amongst the pigeons.

"Let's be really real here. The only reason Jobs is hanging on as chairman is because the stock would be in the toilet otherwise," he opened. "I know a few dozen people who work at Apple and they all tell me that he is still a micromanager on an epic scale."

The upshot was Dent sees real problems for Apple going forward.

"I do not believe you can remove such a strong force, product genius and talisman without it having a profound net negative impact. Tim Cook is not even close to being a Jobs. I do not view Cook as a leader, but rather as a manager - albeit fairly talented," he argued.

"The first time there is a screw up, there will be whispers of 'Well, he's no Steve Jobs'. The second screw up, regardless of how minor, the whispers will be saying 'Wow, this guy is worse than Scully [John, previously Apple CEO]'."

"All of the success was basically momentum from Jobs tenure. I think Apple will be fine over the next two years, but then it will be crushed."


Better for all

PopCap's Eddie Dowse ended the debate on a more positive note, highlighting one specific area of business Apple disrupted.

"One crucial - and often forgotten - part was the way Apple successfully launched an intercontinental missile through the mobile carriers' data plans," he said.

"Pre-iPhone in 2007, it could cost €10 per MB for mobile data. Apple insisted and got a reduction in data pricing from carriers who were fighting for the iPhone's exclusive rights. That opened up the whole mobile internet. Overnight, consumers no longer had to think about mobile internet costs.

"This was one of the fundamental pillars to the growth and success we have all enjoyed with the total rejuvenation of the mobile games industry."

Dowse also saw plenty of future upside for the company that's the most valuable technology outfit in the world.

"In the mid-term, Apple will, I believe, be in an excellent position to bring the Steve Jobs approach for a highly disruptive assault on regions like China, and unconquered platforms such as TV and cars.

Vroom, vroom....