Steve Jobs always oversaw Apple’s blockbuster product launches, but he was never a one-man show. Phil Schiller, the company’s longtime senior vice president of product marketing, often hammed it up onstage as the lower-brow counterweight to Apple’s cool, polished chief executive officer. Offstage, Schiller wasn’t a clown but one of Jobs’s most trusted, influential lieutenants. He helped Apple’s late CEO work through the meat-and-potatoes of creating new products: Defining target markets, determining technical specs, setting prices. It was Schiller who came up with the spin-wheel interface on the original iPod, and he was a champion of the iPad when other executives questioned its potential. Since Jobs’s death in October, perhaps no Apple executive other than CEO Tim Cook is under more pressure to fill the void.
Schiller may play the clown onstage but everyone who knows him knows he’s a pitbull when it comes to Apple.