Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Mac pundit Andy Ihnatko touches on a debate that pops up from time to time: Is Apple successful because of CEO Steve Jobs’ leadership or in spite of it? With Apple reportedly about to post another quarterly profit, it’s a topic worth revisiting, and Ihnatko makes his position on the matter clear in a column titled
“Steve Jobs keeps wowing ’em just like he did 20 years ago.”
He leads off the piece by discussing “the cult of Steve,” populated by those who show up for his keynote addresses at 4 a.m., creating a line so long that it “[looks] like an open audition for American Idol.” He describes their reactions to Jobs’ keynote at
Macworld Conference & Expo as one full of “huge cheers,” complete with “a lady with a loud shriek of hormone-induced delight.”
But just when you think he may be steering you toward The Beatles, Ihnatko comes up with an intriguing comparison: “Steve Jobs is to technology what Walt Disney was to animation.” While neither is an expert in his field, both have vision and know how to assemble the teams needed to execute that vision, he explains. In Jobs’ case, Ihnatko points to the fact that the NeXT Cube was well ahead of its time and that Jobs bought Pixar when George Lucas had no idea what to do with the company and turned it into a digital animation powerhouse.
To seal his hypothesis, Ihnatko points to the promotional deal with Pepsi that Jobs announced during his keynote and reminds us that he reportedly brought then-Pepsi CEO John Sculley to the company with the words “You can either sell sugared water to kids, or you can help to change the world.” Ihnatko writes: “Well, whaddya know? The Mac is 20 years old today, and Steve’s doing both.”