Brash Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison claimed yesterday that Apple is doomed without Steve Jobs.
In an interview with CBS (see below), the outspoken billionaire paid tribute to his late friend, describing the inventor as the IT industry's answer to Thomas Edison or Pablo Picasso.
Apple struggled after Jobs was ousted in a boardroom putsch in 1985, only to see its fortunes recover when its founder returned in 1997. Since Jobs' death nearly two years ago, Apple is arguably on a downward trajectory once more as a lack of new product releases and waning stock price spook fanboys and investors alike.
Asked how the Mac maker will fare without the man he describes as his "best friend", Ellison predicted that history will repeat itself.
"We already know," he said. "We conducted the experiment. It's been done."
With a series of finger points, Ellison charted Apple's fortunes with and without Jobs.
"We saw Apple with Steve Jobs" – up goes the finger. "We saw Apple without Steve Jobs" – the finger shoots down. "We saw Apple with Steve Jobs", the finger is hoisted once more. And finally, ending with another downward swoop of his digit: "And now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs."
"He's irreplaceable," Ellison said. "They will not be nearly so successful because he's gone."
Although Apple stands to gain momentum upon the launch of the new version of its iPhone – rumoured to be next month – and it is plotting a move into the potentially explosive wearable tech market, its iPad market share has fallen dramatically in recent quarters as Android continues its march to dominance.
Despite Ellison's barbed comments, Apple's stock price soared last night after activist investor Carl Icahn tweeted that he had taken a "large position" in the fruity vendor.
And while Ellison believes the only way is down for Apple, Icahn – who is currently tussling with Michael Dell over the future of Dell – believes Apple's stock could rise back up to $700 (£452) a share. Icahn's musings propelled Apple's share price up five per cent to a seven-month high of $489.57 a share on NASDAQ last night.
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