Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca is hot favourite to take over as chief executive of Apple, but his appointment might spell the end for Steve Jobs as chairman according to sources close to the company.
Iacocca?s status as the man most likely to succeed was revealed on Tuesday when he was given a tour of various Apple buildings in Silicon Valley, including the Claris building in Santa Clara and the Apple manufacturing plant in Sacramento. His guide on the tour was Jobs himself.
According to sources within the company, Iacocco appeared to be taking a great interest in the running of the company, asking Jobs for information on the expected lifespan of the MacOS and which products were seen as the flaghips in the corporate portfolio.
Following the tour, the two men returned to Apple headquarters in Cupertino where the company board of directors held what appeared to insiders to be a hastily-convened meeting. One sign of how hurriedly the meeting was called might be discerned from the reported appearance of the normally dapper Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison in shorts.
But the appointment of Iacocca - who is credited with turning around the fortunes of car manufacturer Chrysler - might spell the end for Jobs in his role as chairman. According to Apple insiders, at the end of the board meeting Jobs left the building right away looking extremely unhappy in contrast to the other members who appeared relaxed.
Silcon Valley rumours on Wednesday were that Iacocca and his former Chrysler right hand man Jerry York - who also visited Apple on Tuesday - have demanded complete control of operations in return for turning the company around.
The appointment of a non-IT industry figure such as Iacocca would follow the example of IBM which poached Lou Gerstner from Nabisco to restore its fortunes, an appointment which was so successful that Gerstner?s tenure was recently confirmed for a further five years.
Iacocca retired from Chrysler in 1992, but participated in an abortive takeover attempt of the company in 1995. He was later accused of stealing company secrets by Chrysler, but successfully defended himself against the accusations.
If Iacocca is appointed, his first public appearance is likely to be at the MacWorld trade show in San Francisco in January. Jobs was confirmed on Tuesday as the keynote speaker for the event, but it is expected that he might use his address to usher in the new chief executive.
Meanwhle Apple is about to get its third head of developer relations in less than a year, despite the company?s insistence on the importance of developers to company?s recovery. Clent Richardson, vice president of strategic relations at Design Intelligence, will take over from David Krathwohl on 5 January. Krathwohl has only been in the job since February when the highly respected Heidi Roizen resigned.
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