Although many people have been talking about the Apple/NeXT merger recently, it seems that an important subject is left out. That subject is quite possibly the most vital part of the merger — the return of Steve Jobs.
The mainstream media wrote headlines that exclaimed, "Apple customers happy to see Jobs back." They predicted that his return could mark another comeback for Apple. Well, as one loyal Macintosh user, I'm a little more hesitant.
When Jobs left Apple, it wasn't on good terms. He was forced out by then CEO John Sculley. If Jobs doesn't hold grudges, that would be fine. Unfortunately, he has not displayed any of the traits you'd expect of a forgiving man. If memory serves me correctly, it was Jobs who told the press that he bought his daughter a ThinkPad because PowerBooks weren't good enough.
If I recall correctly, at that time, we were happy to see Jobs go. He was a troublemaker that caused a multitude of problems in the Apple hierarchy. His unorthodox approach created a rift between the upper management and personnel. Published accounts of Apple history attest to the happiness that Apple employees felt upon his departure.
Steve Jobs is a genius. This I will not refute. His work changed the computing world, and commenced the era of "ease of use." He was the one that originally went to the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and saw a machine running a graphical user interface (GUI). He may not have been right about a lot of things, but he was right about this operation system. He knew it was the future, and that eventually all computers would run according to the guidelines he created.
Many projects started with this GUI interface, but not all of them worked. Several attempts had limited success and Jobs noticed a small project that was being overshadowed by the Lisa. He walked into Macintosh headquarters and took over. To this day, Jef Raskin doesn't even like being mentioned in the same sentence with Steve Jobs (whoops, sorry Jef!).
Jobs liked to pick a project, go in, take it over, and do it his way. If the team leader didn't think it was a good idea, that was their tough luck. You did it Steve Jobs' way, or you didn't do it. This is the ethic of the "old Apple." Things have changed significantly during Amelio's term. Apple is not the free-wheeling, blue jeans-wearing, "have fun" type of company they once were. They needed to grow up, and they did. Amelio brought a maturity to Apple that no one had ever seen.
More recently, Jobs has returned to a full time position. His original 'consultant' position has fallen by the wayside. Ellen Hancock"s and Marco Landi's duties were coincidentally "reassigned." They might be the first casualties of Jobs' power. I doubt these will be the only power shifts caused by Steve Jobs. His touch goes beyond what the average Macintosh fan realizes.
Amelio's position has been one of strength. His leadership is without question and he works hard to keep it that way. He has a reputation of being in total control. Steve Jobs on the other hand, has the exact opposite reputation. I guess the final question will be, "Can Amelio keep Jobs in line?" The answer will be decided in time.