Apple Chairman Levinson: I still 'miss Steve'

In a brief interview with Fortune, Arthur Levinson said that it's "weird" to be running Apple's board since Steve Jobs' death.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson Broad Institute

Arthur Levinson, Apple's chairman of the board, still misses Steve Jobs.

"I'm still not to the point where I walk into that board room and don't miss Steve," Levinson told Fortune in an interview published today. He went on to say that being Apple chairman, a position he took in 2011 after Jobs' death, still feels "weird."

Levinson is one of the more respected figures in the biotechnology industry. Until 2009, he was CEO of Genentech, a company that many believe kicked off the entire biotechnology industry. He currently serves as chairman of that company, in addition to Apple.

As with other prominent Apple figures, Levinson was tight-lipped on the company's plans and shared little about its process, saying only that the board will see upcoming Apple products between 6 months and 18 months before their launch. In some cases, the board can chime in and suggest changes, though he acknowledged that it's not in place to "define product specs."

"And ultimately, the board is there to hire and fire the CEO," Levinson said.

For now, it appears his CEO, Tim Cook, won't be fired. Levinson pointed to Apple's fourth-quarter performance, in which the company generated a $13.1 billion profit, as "phenomenal." He also told Fortune that while Apple's stock price is plummeting -- it's down 32 percent in the last six months -- he's confident in its ability to stay strong, saying that he won't worry about how many iPhones the company sold in any quarter.

Levinson's confidence in Apple comes as its co-founder, Steve Wozniak, sounded off on his views toward the iPhone maker. In an interview with Bloomberg published today, Wozniak said that Apple is in danger of losing its standing as the coolest company in the technology industry.

"We used to have these ads, 'I'm a Mac and I'm a PC,' and the Mac was always the cool guy," Wozniak said. "And ouch, it's painful, because we kind of are losing that."