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Analysts praise Apple's exec overhaul, see hints of future sea changes

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 1, 2012
Apple's executive shake-up this week is a sign that design is the 'tip of the spear' for the company, but the reorganization won't disrupt the firm's product delivery and may produce groundbreaking moves, analysts said today.

What the changes won't do, analyst said, was change Apple's short-term plans or impact sales.

"For consumers, this doesn't really matter," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner. "They're not going to buy an iPad because of this."

"I don't think this much changes the cadence of releases," said Moorhead. "After all, it takes time to make any changes, it's going to take Ives time to make changes."

Apple is now down two execs after a Monday culling of the heads of iOS development and the company's retailing. (Image: Apple.)

But in the long run, the reorganization could cast a shadow ... or could be interpreted as a hint of major turns in direction for Apple.

"This creates some uncertainty that they'll continue to deliver excellent, but not flawless, products," opined Gottheil. "But that uncertainty was introduced when Jobs became very ill. Maintaining the level of design [when Jobs was in control] is very hard."

But Milanesi and Moorhead saw the moves -- as did Gottheil, in large measure -- as positive.

For her part, Milanesi applauded the decision to put Ive in charge of all design, and Federighi overseeing all OS development.

"I like the bringing together of iOS and OS X, the two need to be closer together," said Milanesi even as she acknowledged steps Apple has taken over the last 15 months to bring elements of the former to the latter. "But this formalizing is important, that's always a good thing for a company."

Moorhead had a different, more radical take, driven in part by a short description in Cook's statement of Bob Mansfield's new role.

Mansfield, who has worked at Apple since 1999 and has been responsible for Mac hardware for much of that time, announced his retirement in June but was apparently convinced to return by Cook. He will now head a new group, dubbed "Technologies," that Apple said would "combine all of Apple's wireless teams ... in one organization" and perhaps more importantly, would be responsible for "the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future."

"I can see Apple designing a super ARM chip to move up the stack [to the Mac], to remove Intel," said Moorhead. The benefit: In combination with a single development environment for mobile devices and traditional Macs, Apple may be able to leverage the hundreds of thousands of mobile apps on the Mac platform.

But as industry analysts took the executive suite changes in stride, Wall Street did not: In the first day of trading since the Monday announcement, Apple shares were down more than $10, or about 1.6%, and fell under $600 for the first time since July 30.


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