Apple could struggle to maintain its advantage over its competitors without Steve Jobs' vision and management skills, according to analysts at IHS iSuppli.

The company believes that Jobs' "spark may prove irreplaceable over the long term" and no matter how successfully Jobs "seeded Apple with his genius" his influence will be missed.

One of Jobs' key strengths, according to IHS iSuppli, was his clear focus. Once he had identified his and Apple's goals, he would not be swayed from his path - though Jobs was also good at picking his battles and ignoring criticism.

"Apple didn't invent the personal computer, the icon/point-and-click interface, the personal music player or the cellphonebut it did take all these products to a new level by reinventing how people interact with them. This is entirely because of the visionary way in which Steve Jobs saw these markets and their usage models," said Bob Braverman, senior director, communications and consumer electronics at IHS.

"While there are clearly very smart people at Apple, I question whether anyone can envision and realise social and behavioral change the way that Jobs did," he continued.

According to IHS iSuppli, Jobs' greatest legacy to Apple will be the the successful corporate culture he instilled.

"Jobs has been compared to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. These men were able to carry on their vision and legacy because of the institutions they established that lasted after their deaths. The question now is whether Apple has learned enough from Jobs that it can continue on with its successlike Ford Motor Co. did after the death of Henry Ford," said Dale Ford, senior vice president, electronics market intelligence for IHS.

One of Jobs' other ideas was that no product should be released before it was absolutley ready - something seen not only at Apple, but at Pixar as well.

"One of Jobs' major precepts was not to be a slave to the idea that a product had to come out on a certain date. He always made sure the product was ready for primetime before he rolled it out. Even though Jobs wasn't running Pixar anymore, the people there continued to follow the principle of releasing no movie before its time," Ford said.

Long-term, though, IHS iSuppli has serious doubts about Apple's ability to stay ahead of its competitors. "I would be hard pressed to believe that the products impacting the world in 20 years will be based on Apple's products of today," said Jagdish Rebello, principal analyst, communications and consumer electronics at IHS.