Could Apple be getting closer to a leadership transition?
That's what Sam Diaz at our sister site ZDNet thinks. In this video, he argues that Apple's decision to have CEO Steve Jobs share the spotlight at Tuesday's notebook event with other executives such as COO Tim Cook and Jony Ive, senior vice president of design, means that the company is trying to showcase those executives ahead of an eventual departure by Jobs, whose health has been the subject of much bottom-feeding speculation this year.
I wasn't at the event, having flown back East to attend the wedding of a close friend. But I've been to many Apple events over the past several years, and Diaz fails to note that it's not unusual to see other Apple executives onstage with Jobs.
Scott Forstall, head of iPhone software, has played prominent roles in major Apple keynotes dating back to 2006. Jobs often defers to other executives during questions posed by shareholders at the company's annual meeting. And Schiller has been a source of comic relief for years during Jobs' speeches, playing Lou Costello to Jobs' Bud Abbott.
It's been an oft-repeated canard this year about Apple: because the company has not shared its succession plans with the world, it must not have any idea what it will do if Jobs becomes unable or unwilling to run the company. But it's hard to believe that a company that takes its products so seriously, run by a CEO as meticulous as Jobs, has not developed a plan for Apple in the post-Jobs era.
Apple may have decided to showcase its non-Jobs executives at its events in order to assure people that the company is about more than one man. But the practice of sharing the stage is nothing unusual, no matter what color shirt Cook wears onstage.