Guest Blog: Ken Segall, ex Head of Marketing at Apple. The future of a Jobs-less Apple.

Our next BLN CEO Tales in London on 31st May with Ken Segall is proving exceedingly popular. Not only is Ken sharing one of the few ‘insider’s views’ on why Apple has been the phenomenal success over the past 15 years, his book, ‘Insanely Simple, the obsession that drives Apple’s success‘, has just hit the New York Times bestseller list with some rave reviews.

Ken will talk about his experiences at Apple as well what that means for any technology business trying to emulate their success.

We were delighted when he agreed to write a guest blog for us and as we’ve asked each registered attendee to send us a question for Ken, we decided to ask him to pick one and answer it here. It is probably one of the most common questions asked about Apple. Here’s his response…

Ken Segall joins The BLN in London. 31st May.

Can Apple be as successful without Steve Jobs leading the way?

“It’s one of the more popular questions about Apple. And it was being asked even before Steve Jobs passed away. It’s a reasonable question, too, given that Apple’s astronomical success has been so clearly tied to Steve’s leadership.

If you care to take the pessimist’s point of view, you need only point to 1985 and summon the “history repeats itself” argument. After all, Steve Jobs did leave Apple once before, and the results weren’t pretty. A succession of three ineffective CEOs failed to produce remarkable products, and the company slowly slid toward mediocrity. After 11 years without Steve’s influence, Apple’s days seemed to be numbered.

However, I’m not a pessimist. I don’t give a moment’s thought to such worries—simply because the Apple of today bears absolutely no resemblance to the Apple of old.

People seem to forget that when Steve left in 1985, the company was practically a newborn, only about seven years into its journey. It had really created only three computer models: Apple II (a hit), Apple III (a flop), and Macintosh (great idea, not a commercial success). It didn’t have the track record of greatness it has today.

When Steve returned to Apple, he faced an almost impossible challenge. He had to lead a company teetering on bankruptcy back to financial health. Even more difficult, he had to lead it back to relevance. These were not things he could do overnight.

One step at a time, Steve executed a plan. He adjusted his executive team, bringing in the best and the brightest. He created the online Apple Store. He shook up the industry with iMac. Fairly quickly, he had managed to at least right the ship—Apple was profitable again. What became clear was that Apple did have a future, but only if it kept innovating.

With iPod, Apple looked beyond computers for the first time and began its transformation into a consumer electronics company. With iPhone, Apple redefined the smartphone category. And with iPad, it basically invented computers all over again—changing the way we connect to the world.

From the time Steve returned, Apple has created so many technology revolutions, such things are now expected of them. Every new product introduction is so eagerly anticipated, the buzz begins to build many months in advance. And the success of each product only creates a higher level of anticipation for the next product down the pike.

In short, Apple has become an innovation machine, having well absorbed Steve’s values. The executive team understands that Apple will continue to thrive only as long as it keeps innovating. And it’s well aware that a failure to innovate would put all of the company’s gains at risk.

In the future, many will look at decisions made by Apple and debate whether Steve would have made the same decision. That’s a pointless exercise. As civilization advances, as market conditions change, as new threats and opportunities arise, Apple will face circumstances that Steve Jobs never imagined. Tim Cook and his executive team will make their own decisions.

But I have no doubt that their decisions will be based on Steve Jobs’ principles—the same principles that have made Apple the most valuable company on earth.”

To hear more from Ken Segall and to ask your own questions, join us for what will be a brilliant evening on the 31st May, 2012 when Ken will be talking about his new book, listed in the New York Times Best Seller list this weekend. For more info and to register click the link below. 

The BLN CEO Tales with Ken Segall and UK book launch of ‘Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success’. 31st May, 6-9pm, Imperial College London.

Tickets selling fast so register quick.