We can take all the precautions we like, but eventually every system can undergo a shift that shakes it to the core. We see it with the weather when a rare alignment of meteorological events tears a calm environment to shreds. We see it in business when a dominant company or brand in a particular market is suddenly toppled. Mathematicians and scientists variously explain these phenomena in “chaos theory,” “catastrophe theory” and “tipping point theory.” Today, one major corporation that may have just reached a tipping point is Apple Inc.
Somewhat ironically, Apple’s fortunes had already started changing course just as its stock hit meteoric levels in 2011. Then Steve Jobs died. The death of a brilliant business leader is a blow for any company, but it’s a potential disaster for Apple for three reasons. First, Apple doesn’t just have customers like any other corporation; it has disciples, or more accurately, Jobs had disciples. He exercised a near-messianic influence over these followers by creating a quasi-mystical aura around Apple’s products, which some regard almost as sacred amulets and Jobs their divine creator. That was no mean feat for a mere mortal and it was mainly where his brilliance lay. He wasn’t a trained product designer, software engineer, or mathematician, but he was exceptionally clever, had an inspired imagination, enormous ambition and a sharply focused sense of purpose driven by a sizeable ego. In short, he was a genius.