There is a better chance of Apple choosing its next CEO through a raffle of ten golden tickets hidden inside iPad boxes distributed around the globe than that they’d give the job to Eric Schmidt.

John Gruber, talking about possible Steve Jobs “replacements” as CEO of Apple

Completely agree with his breakdown here. Everyone wants this to be an interesting story, but it’s not. If and when the time comes, the next CEO of Apple will be Tim Cook. 

At the same time, Cook will not be CEO in the same way that Jobs is CEO. Cook is not a product or design guy the way that Jobs is. He’s an operations guy. Probably the best in the world. 

Back in January, when remarking on BusinessInsider’s remarkably ridiculous assertion that Tim Cook is Apple’s Steve Ballmer, I laid out what I thought the next phase of Apple looks like:

Further, while I have no more knowledge about Cook than what I’ve read, I would be surprised if he thought of himself as a product visionary who would even try to fill Jobs’ shoes in that capacity. He really does seem to be all about operations. And that’s why he’s the best in the business at it.

I suspect that if Jobs did leave Apple permanently, Cook would pass off those duties to another executive — perhaps Jonathan Ive, Scott Forstall, or someone new brought in. 

Gruber today takes that a step further:

The obvious structure for a post-Jobs Apple has Cook as CEO, doing mostly what he’s already been doing as COO. What he already does at Apple is what most CEOs do at other companies. Final word on product design goes to the senior vice presidents: Scott Forstall (iOS), Jonathan Ive (hardware design), and Phil Schiller (marketing and, perhaps, Mac).

So that would be Cook in the formal lead plus a triumvirate of Forstall, Ive, and Schiller, with nearly as much power. That kind of structure would be fascinating. It would be like ancient Rome post-Caesar — with a Caesar-like figure still having the final say.

Maybe that works. The Roman triumvirates sure didn’t — because they eventually all wanted ultimate power. Cook would retain ultimate power. The buck would stop with him.

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