The death of Apple’s inspirational leader is likely to give major rivals a greater chance to catch up with the technology giant. Steve Jobs’ creative spirit was so closely tied to the fortunes of Apple that his death at 56 raises questions about the company’s ability to keep its pipeline of transformational products running at such a fast pace.
In August, the man known for minimalist design and marketing genius handed the reins to long-time operations chief Tim Cook because of deteriorating health.
In Asia, the fortunes of Samsung are most closely tied to Apple. Analysts have said the South Korean conglomerate is one of the best placed companies to deliver something fresh and exciting to rival Apple. Samsung produces the closest competitor to Apple’s iPad tablet computer. The two companies are scrapping for top spot in the smartphone market, having overtaken Nokia, the market leader for the past decade, in the second quarter. Apple is also Samsung’s biggest customer through the sale of mobile chips and display screens. The relationship and rivalry has helped Samsung become a top global brand over the past decade with a stock market value of $115 billion — still modest compared with Apple’s $345 billion. But the relationship has also produced tensions as Samsung emerged as a credible challenger to Apple’s mobile devices. The two companies have sued each other in 10 countries involving more than 20 cases since April. Jobs’ death comes after Apple this week launched the latest version of its iPhone, in what was Cook’s first big product introduction. However, the iPhone 4S failed to wow fans and investors and some analysts said the rare loss of momentum could give rivals room to push their products.
On Thursday, Samsung’s shares rose 3.9 percent, LG Electronics advanced 6.6 percent and Sony rose 3.6 percent as part of broad gains in Asian markets. “Under Jobs, Apple consolidated segmented IT sectors into one big consumer market and claimed so many victims,” said technology analyst Lee Seung-woo. “Without Jobs, Apple’s rivals now have some time to step up and majors such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Facebook will try to fill the gap.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.
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