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Apple expected to drop Spindler

Michael Spindler, CEO of Apple Computer, is expected to be replaced by Gilbert F. Amelio, CEO of National Semiconductor. Despite the change, industry analysts continue to discuss the possible merger with Sun Microsystems.

Michael Spindler, chief executive officer of Apple Computer is expected to be replaced by Gilbert F. Amelio, chief executive officer of National Semiconductor, according to a report in today's Wall Street Journal. The decision took place at an emergency board meeting in New York on Wednesday, according to reports. Apple Computer officials have declined to comment and said an official announcement has not yet been made.

Bringing in Amelio could put Apple back on its feet, according to Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "He is typically what you call a turn-around manager who will bring the company back up to profit. But he probably won't be the guy to take the company forward once it gets its feet back up because he doesn't have the skills," said Enderle. "He has the skills to make the stockholders happy for now," he added.

Spindler's departure is "somewhat overdue," according to Michael Goulde, an analyst with Patricia Seybold Group. "The industry moves too quickly for people to drag their heels, and if Apple's success means that Spindler had to get out of the way, fine," he said. "There is so much chaos [at Apple] that it's almost a necessity that some really major reorganization occurs," he added.

The goal of Spindler's exit is to send a message to Apple's stockholders, as opposed to their customers, said Enderle. "Apple clearly has a crisis, and they're trying to tell their stockholders that none of the merger talks are going well," he said. "If they wanted to send a message to Apple customers, they would have promoted someone from within," he added.

The industry is still abuzz with word of continuing talks between Sun Microsystems and Apple, although some sources maintain the deal is dead. Goulde for one, believes the deal is likely to happen because Apple has no other choice. "The only suitor that will be successful in a merge with Apple is Sun, and McNealy generally gets what he wants one way or another," he said.

However, Enderle disagrees. The merger with Sun isn't going to happen. "This change is an indicator that the merger talks aren't going to go through," he said.

The big problem Apple is going to have is with its strategy and future downsizing, according to Giga's Enderle. "The cuts that we have seen will probably go deeper and the company is going to have a problem deciding what to get rid of," he said. "They will either exit the hardware or the software side of the company because they won't have enough resources at the end of downsizing."