Can Apple thrive without its visionary CEO?

If investors were as visionary as Steve Jobs has proved to be during his 35 years of tech wizardry, they might be able to figure out whether Apple can still thrive if its founder and CEO doesn’t return from his indefinite medical leave. But Jobs’ prescience is a rarity, reports the Associated Press, which is why doubt and anxiety will probably hang over the company until his fate is clearer. Jobs has assembled and trained a savvy, hard-driving management team that should be capable of following his road map of success for the company. The question is whether Apple can remain a step ahead and develop products that reshape technology, media, and pop culture if Jobs isn’t around to divine the next big thing. Without Jobs, “Apple is a lot more like other companies. Its extraordinariness fades,” says technology analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates. Apple announced Jan. 17 that Jobs, who co-founded the company in 1976, would take an indefinite medical leave for unspecified problems. The leave could be related to his previous bout with pancreatic cancer or his 2009 liver transplant. Jobs’ value is difficult to gauge because of the sheer force of his personality, said Robert Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University who has studied Jobs and Apple. “Anyone who thinks they can estimate that is probably lying,” Sutton says…

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