If Steve Jobs were to step down as the CEO of Apple, what effect -- if any -- would it have on the likelihood of buying Apple products in the future?
Research firms RBC Capital Markets and ChangeWave asked Apple customers this question in a survey conducted between January 31 and February 9. Of the 3,091 respondents, 84% said Steve Jobs departing Apple would have no impact on their buying decisions, and only 7% said they would be less likely to purchase Apple products.
The new results are a notable change from a similar survey completed in June 2008. In the 2008 survey, 18% of respondents expressed a lower interest in buying from Apple if Steve Jobs left the company.
On January 17, Apple announced Jobs would take his third leave of absence for medical reasons, igniting new concerns among investors and fans about the future of Apple without Jobs at the helm. This past week, Apple shares tumbled about 7% after new worries about the CEO's health began to circulate.
Analyst Mike Abramsky suggests this survey shows that Apple may be bigger than its CEO; that Apple isn't just about Jobs anymore.
"Consumers have had 3 years to evolve their perception of the Apple brand around its creative new products, cutting edge innovation, iTunes/App Store ecosystem and premium quality positioning -- beyond the buying pull of Apple's iconic CEO," Abramsky said.
When Steve Jobs took a medical leave of absence in 2009, customers watched Apple perform successfully with Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook running the company. The company's stock rose 144%, revenue grew by 20%, and Apple shipped 25 million iPhones. This success seems to have boosted customer confidence in Apple.
Does Apple lose its bite without Steve Jobs at the helm and become just another technology company? Will you continue to buy Apple products if he leaves? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.