Consumer confidence in Apple would be unaffected if Steve Jobs were to step down as CEO, a new survey finds. According to data gathered by RBC Capital Markets and Changewave, 84% of respondents said that if Jobs were to step down as CEO it would have no effect on their likelihood of buying Apple products in the future. Only 7% said that it would make them less likely to buy in the future, and 8% were unsure. The survey polled 3,091 people, and was taken in late January to early Februrary 2011.

The numbers reflect an increase in confidence in Apple, even as Steve Jobs is on medical leave and COO Tim Cook is filling in the CEO role temporarily. The same poll in 2008 found 18% of people would be less likely to buy Apple products if Jobs were to leave Apple. Cook’s past performance may have something to do with allaying consumer fears, as he guided Apple with great success during Jobs’ previous medical leaves.
RBC analyst Mike Abramsky said in a note that “the survey shows consumers may have a higher comfort [than in the past] about Apple without CEO Jobs,” suggesting that while Jobs was on leave share price rose 144%, revenue climbed 20%, and Apple shipped 25 million iPhones and launched the iPhone 3GS.

Meanwhile, company management and dedicated employees have executed well during Jobs’ past absences, and consumers have had three years “to evolve their perception of the Apple brand beyond the buying pull of its iconic CEO,” Mr. Abramsky said.

Is Apple the company now larger than its visionary leader and founder? In the minds of many industry watchers and Apple fans, Apple and Steve Jobs are inextricably linked, and there has been and will continue to be much hand-wringing over the future of Apple without Steve. But to consumers, Apple has become greater than its CEO, which for Apple must be good news indeed.

Article Via AppleInsider

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