By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 31, 2012

One of the most fascinating panels on the Macworld stage during last week’s Macworld | iWorld expo in San Francisco was a conversion about “The State of Apple” among Macworld editor Jason Snell, Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber and Chicago Sun Times columnist Andy Ihnatko.

We’ve excerpted the part that interested us most: 5:40 about what happens to Apple (AAPL) without Steve Jobs at the helm.

Our favorite bit: Ihnatko on why more companies don’t emulate Apple.

“When you try to copy Apple, it’s like trying to copy an oak tree. You have to plant the seed and watch it grow then see what it came up with. You can’t then just watch what it became, go to Home Depot, buy a whole bunch of lumber, paint and fake leaves, then build something. Because what you build is going to be half-assed and not an oak tree in any way, shape or form.”

To hear the rest of their conversation — in which they discuss thermostats, the new J.C. Penney and the advantages of having a crazy billionaire CEO — click here. For other Macworld panels, click here.

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