Steve Jobs, 56, a veritable legend in the IT business who has battled serious health problems for several years, announced late Aug. 24 that he is stepping down as Apple's CEO.
Jobs said in a letter to the company's board of directors that he would like to remain as chairman of the board and as "an Apple employee" in the company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak. The board of directors obliged him.
In the letter, Jobs urged the board to name COO Tim Cook as the company's new CEO. Cook had served as interim CEO while Jobs took several leaves of absence from his duties to fight pancreatic cancer during the last 8 years. The Apple co-founder, who had a liver transplant two years ago, has been on medical leave since Jan. 17.
After accepting Jobs' resignation, the Apple board members subsequently announced that Cook has been elected CEO.
Here is the text of the letter that Jobs wrote to the board and Apple employees:
"To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.Steve "
The stock market reacted quickly in after-hours trading with Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) common stock dropping 5.5 percent to $355.76 three hours after the market closed, down from $376.18 at the closing bell.
Reuters reported that "analysts do not expect Jobs' resignation -- which had long been foreseen -- to derail the company's fabled product-launch roadmap, including possibly a new iPhone in September and a third iteration of the iPad tablet in 2012."
Reaction Quick to Come In
Apple-co-founder Steve Wozniak (pictured with Jobs and the Apple I in 1976), interviewed on Bloomberg News Aug. 24, said that Jobs "is probably the great technical leader of our lifetime. He always wanted to be an important person in the world and he wanted to do it with a company. And he did it many times over, not just with Apple.
"Look at the music company (iTunes), and the movie company (Pixar) he started. He wasn't just Apple. Gosh, at Apple he built products that stand the test of time, like the Mac, the iPod, iPhone, the iPad.
"I think he's probably not too worried about how the company will continue. He'll still be there as chairman, right?"
Several former Apple executives said they were surprised at the news, even though the company has been signalling the move for several years.
"Steve Jobs works on a very different personal operating system than most people," former Apple marketing director Guy Kawasaki said. "It would be comparable to, say, getting a fish to fly."
Former PepsiCo CEO John Sculley once said that he felt he was "vastly unqualified" to run Apple as its CEO, which he did from 1983 to 1993.
"But Steve has the amazing knack of saying the exact right thing, at the exact right time, for the right reasons," Sculley said in a television documentary on Jobs. "He's very motivational. Back then, I told him I thought I wasn't the guy to run a technology company, but he looked down at his running shoes, then up at me, and said: "Do you want to keep selling sugar water the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?
"I was working a Apple a few weeks later."
Analysts Chime In
IT analyst Michael Gartenberg of Gartner, in an email to eWEEK, wrote: "While this marks the end of an era for Apple, I think it's important to remember there's more to Apple than any one person, even Steve Jobs.
"Continuing as chairman, Mr. Jobs will continue to leave his mark on both the company and products even as he transfers the reins to Mr. Cook. As my grandfather used to say, the cemeteries are full of people that can't be replaced."
Another Gartner analyst, Carolina Milanesi, wrote that "Steve Jobs said he will continue to contribute as Chairman, and I believe that he will just be involved as much as he can for as long as he can. Tim Cook proved he can lead Apple, and from a product line perspective, Apple is likely covered for the next couple of years at least as far as big picture and direction. For the competitors, Apple remains the company to beat, and this does not change as Steve steps down.
"Tim Cook has already demonstrated that he can lead Apple and has the vote of confidence of Steve Jobs. There is no question that Steve's charisma will be hard, if not impossible, to replace, but there is more to Apple than Steve Jobs as far as product design planning and execution."