Apple has yet to prove that it can prosper in a post-Steve Jobs world, but this week's Worldwide Developer Conference brought the company closer to that goal. With Jobs seemingly poised to soon return from medical leave, the company he co-founded looks better positioned to live without him, when that time eventually comes.
That is good for Apple, its customers, and even for Jobs, whose presence has previously been seen as the key to his company's success.
Apple trotted out a small collection of senior executives during Monday's product announcements. While customers can be excused for not knowing the names of people like Bertrand Serlet, who showed the new Snow Leopard OS, the parade of talent demonstrated that Apple is not just Steve Jobs.
Still, it is not just clear how many important decisions these people really make. Apple needs to start giving credit where it's due.
Phil Schiller, the marketing boss who has stood in for Jobs at recent announcements, still lacks "Elvis," but people have grown to accept him in a product leadership role even though he is not really a techie. Schiller has long been considered Jobs faithful lieutenant, but has not stood out on his own.
When Jobs' health became an issue, many wondered how the company would fare without his singular leadership. Despite the show-and-tell on Monday, we still do not know for sure. Throughout his illness, Jobs has been widely presumed to have his fingers in the products announced this week and those to be included in years of announcements to come.
In promoting Steve Jobs as key to all things Apple, the company has given little publicity to contributions made by others. It has always been presumed that others contributed to Apple's success, but such contributions have rarely been acknowledged in public.
Most people, for example, believe Jobs developed the iPod himself, and have no awareness of former Apple exec Tony Fadell's role as the real father of the world's most popular music device.
This week, Apple showed that it has a talented bench, but with Jobs' health a persistent question, it only makes sense for the company to spotlight--in a more meaningful way--the contributions of others.
If Apple wants to emerge from one man's shadow, it still has some distance to go. Still, this week was at least a start.