Amelio proud of his legacy

In his first public appearance since his ouster as CEO, Gilbert Amelio talks of the progress he made at Apple and the challenges ahead.

3 min read
SAN FRANCISCO--Outgoing CEO Gilbert Amelio defended his tenure at Apple Computer (AAPL) Macworld saga continues in his first public address since his resignation was announced earlier this month, saying the company is now poised to again become a leader in the high-tech industry.

Delivering an address here before the Commonwealth Club, a group of civic-minded community and business leaders,

Amelio: Apple not your average business
Amelio took credit for bringing the ailing computer company back into the game, saying the Rhapsody and Mac OS 8 operating systems top off Apple's strongest lineup in history.

"In addition to its powerful brand, I'm proud that the company now has the strongest product line up in history...I believe I'm allowed to take credit for putting Apple back in a strong, ready-to-relaunch position," he said.

Everyone--even people that don't use Apple products--will be affected and influenced by the company's new operating systems, he said.

"Today everything that is coming into the computer world is proprietary. It doesn't have to be that way," said Amelio, adding that Apple's new products are leading the company toward a "platform-agnostic" front. "Rhapsody is cross-platform and network-centric...It will allow elegant use of the network."

Amelio's surprise resignation came July 9, just a week before Apple posted a net loss far narrower than analysts had expected, as expenses fell and sales were driven by high-end

Apple poised to be a leader
Macintosh sales. But neither the company nor Amelio is making predictions on whether it will return to sustained profitability in the fourth quarter, as the former CEO had earlier projected.

Amelio said Apple needs to choose a successor who will thrive in the unique culture that the company has prided itself on. Apple is an American icon that needs to be understood differently, managed differently, and, more important, needs a rare kind of stewardship, he said.

"Apple people cannot be won over by a charming smile and a comradely manner...It is time for a charismatic leader to woo and win the followers," he said.

Amelio added that the next Apple CEO must have the courage and stamina to stay the course.

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Other necessary qualities include "a strong sense of humor--perhaps a better one than I had," Amelio said.

Such an executive must also be able to fit into the strong corporate culture in order to win approval, Amelio said, noting a that a commonly held belief at Apple is that no one ever got a great idea while wearing a coat and tie.

But as Apple heads into its next phase of product lineups, the company needs to take its well-known brand name and aggressively push it to new frontiers. The sales and marketing departments must bring new programs and products into the mainstream, he added.

Amelio on his tenure
As for his own plans, Amelio said he won't hide in the shadows until his departure.

"I intend to be watchful as a technology activist," Amelio said. "Expect to hear from me on many issues to do with technology and the future."

Amelio cited working with educational systems, teaching young people, and helping start-ups as areas of interest. And although he did not rule out becoming the CEO of another company, he stressed he will not chart his course in haste.

Amelio addresses reporters at the Commonwealth Club.

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