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Can Phil Schiller Keep Apple Cool?

Phil Schiller takes charge of defining products and marketing that inspire devotion
Schiller serves as comic relief while Jobs demos video chat features
Schiller serves as comic relief while Jobs demos video chat featuresPhotograph by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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. In 1999, Schiller jumped off a 15-foot platform to show off Apple’s new iBook. In 2007, he demoed new videoconferencing features by superimposing his mouth on a photo of Steve Ballmer. “I love my Mac!” Schiller had the Microsoft chief declare.

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. “Because Phil’s title is marketing, people believe he’s focused on what’s on the billboards,” says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. “He’s much more important than people give him credit for.”