After Steve Jobs, who will run Apple?

"If his health deteriorates rapidly from now on, then Apple's stock will continue to be hit," he warned.

Now is the time to bring in a potential successor, so that person can start being integrated into Jobs' role, Longbottom said. "If Apple can move fast and bring in someone who can be positioned correctly, who can be seen with Jobs a few times, and who can be seen to be stating the same messages with their own spin, then there's hope."

And maybe that's what will happen with Cook or maybe Jobs just doesn't want to let go, suggested Longbottom. "Steve has made it a one-man circus, keeping other Appleites out of the frame, and anything that now happens has got to be on his own head. He's leaving a big hole to fill, but this hole could have been filled gently and continuously over the past two or three years, rather than someone now trying to get a backhoe and dump a large amount of infill in to it."

But maybe it's not all about Jobs, afterall. As McGuire noted: "I think one of things that often gets overlooked is that Jobs, since his return, has recruited some very capable executives and promoted others who were at Apple when he returned in 1997. So, yes, I think they can succeed without him."

Additional reporting by Reuters.