Does This Steve Jobs Legacy Hold Apple’s Answer?

There has been much speculation recently about whether the death of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs not only marked the demise of the company’s creative genius, but also its ability to innovate. Because competitors are slowly catching up to Apple’s ability to continually satisfy in mobile commuting, the company is in need of innovation if it wants to maintain its vicious competitive edge.

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According to Barron’s, UBS hardware analyst Steve Milunovich explained Apple’s problem like this: “The [Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)] Android vendors have caught up or surpassed Apple in hardware, are in the same ballpark in software, and are closing the gap in apps. Going forward, Apple needs to either (1) shift the curve so user desires outpace competitors’ features or (2) succeed as the game moves to higher layers, especially in services.”

The question then remains: Can Apple continue to sustain itself in the midst of “the game [moving] to higher layers,” even without the vision of their creative brilliance, Steve Jobs?

Milunovich concurs that it largely rests on the shoulders of Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook — a man who Jobs deliberately chose to succeed him, but even still, never saw as a “product guy.”

Although no extraordinary products have been turned out in the Cook era thus far, there is reason for hope. As Milunovich points out, Jobs compiled future product plans for his company as well as established Apple University, a place that educates employees on the Apple decision-making method and prepares them for mistake revision and improvement. Thus, as long as Cook can continue in Jobs’ legacy to maintain an unequivocal presence in each of the company’s projects and aid in teamwork, there is good reason to believe that the iPhone maker will be able to continue to turn out new cutting-edge products.

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Before Jobs died, he made sure to “create a culture that would live on.” Prematurely discounting Apple’s ability to progress and move forward is a dangerous move. Apple’s functional organization sets itself up for future successful collaboration and innovation, even as the fireworks of the iPhone success begin to settle. Cook is intent on having a hand in the company’s next big success and proving he and his employees’ worth. Rest assured that the students of Apple University aren’t hanging up their hats just yet.

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