Hey Larry, tell us what you really think about Apple's future

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, never one to mince his words about anything, pretty much made clear to CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose that he thinks Apple is done, finished, kaput.

Yes, the world’s third-richest man still likes and respects Apple CEO Tim Cook. But without his old friend Steve Jobs around anymore to ride herd over Apple’s mad-genius workforce, the company’s best days are behind it.

If investors gave Ellison’s take much stock, they certainly weren’t showing it in early trading on Wall Street where Apple stock climbed nearly 1 percent.

No matter. Ellison, who rarely speaks publicly with the press but who sat down with Rose at the billionaire’s  compound south of San Francisco to chat a bit about Apple, Google and the NSA leaks, was full of strong opinions.  After briefly bashing Google chief Larry Page for what Ellison basically called that rival’s theft of Oracle’s software tools, Ellison was asked by Rose:  “Let’s talk about Steve Jobs.”

And Ellison was off to the races:

Rose:  “What is it about him? You — we recognize the fact that he loved Apple and he wanted to make Apple great and he did. But what was it about him that enabled him to do it, other than he worked hard?”

Ellison:  “He was — he was brilliant. I mean, our Edison. He was our Picasso. He was an incredible inventor.”

Rose:  “So what happens to Apple without Steve?”

Ellison: “Well, we already know . . . We saw — we conducted the experiment . . . it’s been done.”

Ellison, who called Jobs “my best friend for 25 years”  and appeared emotional at times, reminded Rose about Jobs’  forced departure in the mid-80s from the company he had founded and how that move did not bode well for Apple.

“We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,” said Ellison as he shot his finger up in the air to indicate the company’s  good fortunes in its first heyday .  “We saw Apple without Steve Jobs,”  he said, lowering his finger to show its subsequent fall from grace.  “We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,”  he said, and the finger went up again, indicating Apple’s second heyday.

Ellison paused and then said “Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.”

That finger stayed put for a brief moment, hovering mid-air before it was lowered one more time by its owner.

“He’s irreplaceable,” Ellison said of his old friend. And Apple “won’t be nearly as successful because he’s gone.”

So you’ll bet on Apple to fail? Rose asked.

“I”m not shorting” Apple stock, he replied. “I like Tim Cook.”

Photo credit: Forbes.com

 

Patrick May Patrick May (303 Posts)

With more than 30 years on the front line of daily American journalism, I'm currently a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury News, covering Apple and writing people-centric business stories from Silicon Valley.