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'Apple will coast, and then decelerate' says Forrester CEO

Tim Cook can't replace Steve Jobs' charisma, vision

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George Colony, the CEO of analyst firm Forrester says Apple's best days are behind it and suggests the company is headed for the kind of slump that befell Sony and Disney when their visionary leaders departed.

In a blog post Colony uses a taxonomy from Max Weber's 1947 book The Theory of Social and Economic Organization which says businesses are either "Legal/bureaucratic", "Traditional" or " Charismatic."

Colony's analysis is that Apple fell into the third category and, leaning on Weber, he says that Jobs' charisma, vision and willingness to take risks were essential to the company's ability to create breakthrough products.

But Tim Cook, he says, is merely “... a proven and competent executive” whose “... legal/bureaucratic approach will prove to be a mismatch for an organization that feeds off the gift of grace.”

Colony thinks Jonathan Ive or Scott Forstall would do a better job leading Apple, but also admits he knows neither personally. Indeed Colony seems not to have any particular experience of the two executives, as he also writes that “From on far they appear to have some of the charisma and outspoken design sense to legitimately lead the company.”

Those admissions mean it is, at this point, tempting to write that, from on far, it could appear that Colony is stirring rather than analysing things rigorously.

But we would never do that and will instead quote Colony's final observation that “... without the arrival of a new charismatic leader it [Apple] will move from being a great company to being a good company, with a commensurate step down in revenue growth and product innovation. Like Sony (post Morita), Polaroid (post Land), Apple circa 1985 (post Jobs), and Disney (in the 20 years post Walt Disney), Apple will coast, and then decelerate.” ®

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