You've heard it all before: "Apple is dead." "A footnote in the history of the computer industry." "The magic is gone." But is Apple really on the way out, or can they escape from a downward spin that has now lasted years, not months?

In the wake of Gil Amelio's obviously forced departure from Apple Computer, which followed forced departures for their two previous CEOs, Wall Street wasted no time before expressing their doubts about the future of the once-weighty company.

"Anytime you see a CEO resign days before earnings are released, it's a pretty safe bet that revenue and earnings figures are going to be even worse than expected," said one analyst. "Obviously, Gil wasn't getting the job done and now they need somebody to step up and rekindle customer enthusiasm."

Apple still has approximately $5 billion a year in sales, though this is declining 20-30% a year. In fact, sales this recent quarter dropped over 25% from the same quarter a year ago. More importantly, Apple's worldwide marketshare has fallen from 5.1% in Q1 1996 to 2.9% this year. On the other hand, the Apple name, though tarnished, is still worth something in an industry prone to making myths of 20-year old companies. Unfortunately, the tide has turned against Apple: it is no longer true that the entire industry is pulling for them to succeed. In a world dominated by Windows, most computer users are only vaguely familiar with the Apple name.

Apple CFO Fred Anderson indicated in a teleconference with reporters that Steve Jobs would not assume the role of CEO. He also noted that Apple would look outside the company for their next leader.

Note to Apple: make it Steve Jobs. It may be risky and it may be obvious, but if he'll take the job, let him run with it. Unfortunately, Jobs has asked that he not be considered a candidate for the position