Apple Computer finally met with shareholders, months after the usual time. The company had hoped to have a new CEO in time for the annual event, and pushed the date forward last Fall. In the meantime, interim CEO Steve Jobs, who has been offered the position several times, has run Apple with a steady hand, though he professes to want out even while the search for a real CEO has stalled. Jobs, then, faced shareholders in Cupertino in a "town-hall" setting where he promised to push Apple harder in the consumer market. Since taking over at Apple, the company has focused on Apple's strongest niche markets: graphic arts/publishing and education. The company was recently rewarded with two positive quarters in a row.
While Jobs was hazy on the details, he did provide a glimpse at a few new product, such as "Columbus", the code-name for a new Mac OS-based set-top box. He also said that Apple and Intuit would soon be making a joint announcement, though he didn't specify why: Intuit announced earlier this month that it was canceling Quicken for the Mac because of declining sales.
One shareholder told Jobs that the title "interim CEO" smacked of "unfinished business."
"Some people worry about the word 'interim,' but they weren't worried about the last CEO \[Gil Amelio, who presided over a disaster year at Apple\], and he wasn't interim," Jobs responded. Jobs also cautioned the shareholders that he wasn't the only reason for Apple's recent successes.
"Don't be fooled into thinking this is a one-man show," he said.
Jobs also addressed the Newton, which the company finally killed in February. He said that Apple had received several offers for the technology but that each offer was for "a small amount of money". He said that Apple was still in discussions with a number of companies regarding Newton.
Jobs summarized Apple's business plan as building great products at healthy margins that people want to buy. That went over well with shareholders, but Jobs provided few specifics. The consensus is that Apple must keep growing and keep improving, or shareholders may revolt again next year. And Steve Jobs, despite his interim title, is firmly in charge of a company that once again seems to have a clear vision for the future