SHINY TOY MAKER Apple is being pressured to reveal what it's going to do when CEO Steve Jobs finally packs away his turtleneck and blue jeans.
A shareholder proposal that Apple reveal a succession plan received support from Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential advisory firm. ISS believes Apple shareholders should not be kept in the dark, and should be provided with an annual report on the firm's succession plans.
It's a tricky issue for the company, with Jobs having to step away from the leadership last month due to undisclosed health problems. The Apple board of directors claims it already has a succession plan in place, but does not want to disclose anything publicly, believing competitors could take advantage.
ISS has supported similar CEO succession proposals involving companies like HP, American Express and Verizon, which were then adopted. Apple shareholders will vote on the CEO succession plan question on 23 February.
At the moment, Apple COO Tim Cook is running the company day-to-day, and he is probably the most likely candidate for the role. But it could be argued that you don't identify him with the Apple brand in the same way as Jobs.
Apple has to face up to a possible future without its charismatic leader. With Google streamlining and moving Larry Page into the CEO role, Apple needs someone to step up to the plate. µ