Wozniak: Apple May Decline, But Not Because It Lost Steve Jobs

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Wozniak: Apple May Decline, But Not Because It Lost Steve Jobs
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Even before Steve Jobs stepped down from Apple a little more than a year ago, there were questions about whether the company could succeed without him in charge. Each time Apple has faltered in the time since -- whether it was releasing a bad series of commercials or a bad maps application on the iPhone -- this question has inevitably been asked again.

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Now, Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak has a message for those who wonder whether Apple is doomed to decline just as it did in the '80s after Jobs left: Apple is in a much different (and much better) position now than it was then.

"Apple was a one product company back then," Wozniak said during an "Ask Me Anything" forum on Slashdot. "Now we are very diversified and strong. If one product suffers we can recover based on the income and profits from our other sectors. We have computers, laptops, iTunes, iPods, retail stores, online Apple Store, iPhones, iPads [and Apple TV?]."

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It's certainly a fair point: Even if competitors start to chip away at Apple's share of the tablet or smartphone markets, the company still has a strong grip in other technology markets. To be fair, though, Apple's biggest money maker right now by far is the iPhone, which generated about 58% of the company's revenue  in the second quarter of this year. So while Apple may not be a one product company anymore, it is still dependent on one product more than the rest.

Wozniak went on to note that "there is always a danger" Apple could decline, but if it does, it may not be due to the loss of Steve Jobs. "My personal opinion is that if it goes sour, it might have gone sour with Jobs there so conclusions should not be drawn. That is not constructive for Apple." He didn't elaborate on what other reasons may contribute to the company's decline.

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Wozniak argued that the telltale sign of Apple's decline isn't something like a bad marketing campaign or declining market share, but would instead be the company "returning to just milking its existing markets and not astounding us with new categories of products, or totally astounding ones." That, he said, is what skeptics to "keep a watch for."

To prevent this from happening, Wozniak went on to suggest that Apple take a page from what Jobs did after returning to the company in the late '90s in order to prevent this kind of decline from happening. "We did go through a period of introducing a lot of key younger talent when Steve Jobs returned," he said. "One suggestion is that we look at doing that again."

In the forum, Woz also opened up about his "mixed feelings" on Apple releasing walled-off products and his thoughts on the many lawsuits between Apple and its competitors ("I wish that instead of all these lawsuits Apple was sitting down and cross-licensing with the other players.") He also admitted that he would return to Apple in a heartbeat if the right opportunity arose.

"I like to do what I'm good at, which is enjoying technology. I don't honestly feel I could do better than anyone reading this at a role in Apple," Wozniak said. "If there was something for sure where I'd be a great help to Apple, I'd be there in an instant, as Apple is #1 in my heart."

Image courtesy of Flickr, campuspartycolombia

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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