Seoul - The death of Apple’s inspirational leader is likely
to have a deep impact on the maker of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, giving 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
"As a technology analyst, I am sorry for his death. It
was Jobs' Apple, not Apple's Jobs,” said Kim Young-chan, an analyst at Shinhan
Investment in Seoul.
The CEOs of rivals including Samsung Electronics, Amazon,
Google and Sony mourned the death of Jobs, a sign of the respect they held for
the Silicon Valley legend.
Investors had known about Jobs' long battle with pancreatic
cancer. In August, the man known for minimalist design and marketing genius
handed the reins to long-time operations chief Tim Cook.
“Apple no longer has someone as creative and ambitious as
Jobs that they can rely on,” said Simon Liu, deputy investment officer of
Polaris Group’s fund unit.
In Asia, the fortunes of Samsung are most closely tied to
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 $115bn - still
modest compared with Apple's $345bn.
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.
Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones and tablet computers
running on Google's Android operating system are seen as the main competitor to
Apple’s game-changing iPhones and iPads.
The competition was "flummoxed" by the iPad, Jobs declared
in March when he took the stage to unveil Apple’s latest tablet.
“They went back to the drawing boards. They tore up their
designs because they weren’t competitive,” Jobs said.
Lee Seung-woo, technology analyst at Shinyoung Securities,
said Apple had transformed the industry, but its influence would wane without
Jobs at the helm of the company.
“Under Jobs, Apple consolidated segmented IT sectors into
one big consumer market and claimed so many victims,” Lee said.
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.”
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at research consultancy
Ovum, said Apple would do well in the short term as the company would roll out
products Jobs had a hand in.
The iPhone - introduced in 2007 with the touchscreen
template now adopted by its rivals - is the gold standard in the booming
smartphone market, and its sales have dealt a blow to ambitious plans of many
“The question is whether it can continue to launch iconic
and successful products without him (in the longer term)... In the longer term,
Apple risks becoming a more ordinary company without him.”
Jobs' influence was underlined by the outpouring of tributes
from executives of the world’s biggest companies.
“Chairperson Steve Jobs introduced numerous revolutionary
changes to the information technology industry and was a great entrepreneur,” Samsung
Chief Executive G.S. Choi said in a statement.
Howard Stringer, the chief executive of Sony said: “The
digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve’s innovation and creativity
will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations.”
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
“Jobs was an outstanding CEO and his successor Tim Cook
faces a test (as to) whether Apple will be able to lead the global market as it
was before,” Lee Jun-hyuck, a fund manager at Dongbu Asset Management.
On Thursday, Samsung's shares rose 3.9%, LG Electronics
advanced 6.6% and Sony rose 3.6% as part of broad gains in Asian markets.
Phones based on Google’s Android, which is available for
free to handset vendors such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola, have a greater
combined market share than Apple's iPhone, which is still the world’s No. 1
“Apple faces big challenges with the loss of Jobs and that
will offer other technology companies opportunities to challenge its
supremacy,” said Lee at Shinyoung.