Bloomberg News

Schiller Poised to Be Apple’s Top Pitchman in Post-Jobs Era

October 06, 2011

(Updates with degree in 11th paragraph. For more coverage on Jobs’s passing, see EXT5<GO>.)

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. called on Phil Schiller to stand in for Steve Jobs at the 2009 Macworld conference after the then-chief executive officer went on medical leave. Later that year, with Jobs still out, Schiller unveiled the iPhone 3GS.

Now that Jobs is gone, Schiller is likely to become the company’s primary pitchman.

Schiller, vice president for worldwide product marketing, has been the second-most-public face at Cupertino, California- based Apple for years. He’s been a fixture in Jobs’s keynotes, demonstrating new products and playing the comic sidekick. Behind the scenes, he has run the marketing empire that hones and promotes the company’s products.

Schiller, 50, has always been willing to take a body blow for Apple. In 1999, he took a feet-first high dive into a mat holding an Apple laptop as part of a stunt during a Jobs MacWorld speech.

He has been one of a handful of Apple executives involved in the detailed process leading to Jobs’s keynote appearances, including sitting through repeated rehearsals by executives from other companies invited to showcase their products on stage.

Apple has drawn so much limelight that Schiller has become something of a high-technology celebrity himself, including a site called Schillermania devoted to his appearances.

His on-stage shtick usually involves self-deprecating humor. At his MacWorld appearance in January 2009 in Jobs’s traditional slot, Schiller started off his speech by saying, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all showing up,” drawing laughter and applause.

Trusted Lieutenant

Inside Apple, he was one of Jobs’s most trusted lieutenants. He is responsible for many of the company’s memorable product slogans and for singing the praises of Apple products, from Macs to the App Store, to the media.

As head of developer relations, he’s also helped build Apple’s vast system of partners, from applications developers to makers of iPhone accessories.

When Apple came under fire in 2010 from developers who felt the company was arbitrarily refusing to approve certain apps, he wrote a public memo clarifying Apple’s policies. In 2009 he defended Apple’s control of its App Store to Businessweek magazine, saying the company had “built a store for the most part that people can trust.”

Schiller is a devoted fan of Boston College’s hockey team. After graduating from the school in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, he worked as a programmer at Massachusetts General Hospital. He worked at Apple in the late 1980s before leaving in 1993.

After working as a marketing executive at FirePower Systems Inc. and Macromedia Inc., Schiller rejoined Apple in 1997, when Jobs was a consultant to the company and had not yet returned as CEO.

--Editors: John Lear, Donna Alvarado

To contact the reporters on this story: Peter Burrows in San Francisco at pburrows@bloomberg.net; Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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