Originally created 09/17/97

Jobs named interim Apple CEO



NEW YORK (AP) - Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday formally named Steve Jobs as interim chief executive and disclosed it may not find a permanent leader until the end of the year - six months from Gil Amelio's July 9 ouster from the job.

Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple, has been acting as CEO since Amelio's departure two months ago created a power vacuum that raised fresh questions about the computer company's ability to survive.

The appointment renewed speculation that Jobs, who has said he doesn't want the position, would wind up as CEO after all.

Apple stock rose 2 percent following the announcement amid a broad rally on Wall Street. It gained 433/4 cents to close at $21.933/4 a share on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Apple said the appointment merely reflected Jobs' expanded responsibilities since he rejoined the company as an adviser late last year. Despite lacking an executive position, Jobs has made dramatic decisions to try to ensure Apple's survival, including a surprise alliance with Microsoft Corp. and a big shift away from cloning cheap versions of the Macintosh. Jobs was named to Apple's board last month as part of a revamping of company directors.

The company had said at the time of Amelio's departure it expected its search to take about three months, but the hunt started anew after the board restructured.

Still, Tuesday's news suggested to some industry observers that Apple was having trouble attracting candidates to the top post.

"They wouldn't bother going through this, giving him a title, if there were a chance they would announce someone else in the next few weeks," said Henry Norr, a veteran Apple watcher who is a columnist at MacWeek.

A spokeswoman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said the search was going well, but declined to say whether Jobs was a candidate. John Thompson, the senior executive at search firm Heidrick & Struggles who is aiding Apple in its search, was traveling in Europe and could not be reached for comment.

Jobs was unavailable for comment. But his opposition to becoming Apple's permanent leader was reiterated Tuesday by a top executive at Pixar Animation Studios, which Jobs founded and still heads.

"My knowledge is this doesn't change anything, for Pixar," said Lawrence Levy, chief financial officer of the movie animation studio. "He's not interested in the CEO job" at Apple.

But Jobs' formalized role could toughen the search, several analysts said. While known as a charismatic leader, Jobs also has a reputation as an abrasive perfectionist who doesn't take advice well and tends to bypass managers to deal directly with engineers and marketers.

The prolonged search worried analysts at a time of persistent drops in Macintosh sales, Jobs' controversial decision to scrap Apple's clone strategy, and worries about a replacement for the aging Mac operating system.

Apple, once a PC pioneer, has steadily lost ground to rival machines that run on Intel Corp. chips using Microsoft's Windows operating software. Windows is seen by many to be almost as easy to use as Apple's Macintosh.

Apple's sales of Macintoshes plunged 24.5 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the year-ago period, as its share of the overall PC market fell to 4.5 percent from 7.2 percent a year ago, according to Dataquest Inc., a San Jose, Calif., research firm.

Apple's new board gathered last week for its first regularly scheduled meeting and named Jobs interim CEO, the company said Tuesday.

Jobs, who co-founded Apple with his friend, Steve Wozniak, in 1976, left the company in 1985. But he returned in December as an adviser when Apple bought Next Software Inc., the company Jobs founded after leaving Apple.

Since Amelio's ouster, Jobs has cut off executive bonuses, reduced severance pay and eliminated sabbaticals. The company now is paying only for coach air fares for employees on trips shorter than 10 hours.