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Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has resigned his position as the company’s CEO. The man, widely credited with taking Apple from a laggard in the tech world to the most successful company on earth, will be replaced by acting CEO Tim Cook.
Jobs announced his decision via a brief letter to the company’s board, which was subsequently released to the press. Jobs has held the position of CEO since his return to Apple in 1996.
The Apple co-founder is seen as the heart and soul of Apple, with analysts and investors repeatedly expressing concern over how the Cupertino, California-based company will fare without the figure seen as its driving force.
News of Jobs’ resignation helped boost shares in major competitor Samsung while other industry players also benefited with analysts seeing a window of opportunity for rivals of the trailblazing US firm.
The announcement saw Apple shares tumbling over five percent in after-hours US trade.
Shares in Samsung Electronics meanwhile, whose Galaxy tablet is sparring with the iPad, jumped three percent, while LG Electronics surged four percent.
Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January of this year, stated in his letter to the board that he wanted Apple’s succession plan to be followed.
The plan calls for Cook, the company’s current Chief Operating Officer, to take over as CEO.
In the letter, Jobs makes vague allusions to the illness which has incapacitated him, writing, “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”.
Two years ago Jobs took a six-month sabbatical from the company, during which it has been widely reported he received a liver transplant.
‘Apple will do just fine’
Gartner analyst Van Baker saw no reason for investors to panic as the iconic brand lost value in Asia trade.
“My suspicion is that Apple will do just fine,” Baker said. “There are so many talented people there and Steve’s attention to detail is baked into the culture.”
Jobs will still be around as chairman of the Apple board and the company has product plans mapped, according to the analyst. Apple is expected to launch a fifth-generation iPhone in September or October.
“Apple is an execution monster, and that includes products, supply chain and marketing,” Baker said. “Their roadmap is in place; I’m sure they are already working on the next iPad.”
Whilst shocking the general public — Apple’s stock seeing a drop of 6.5 percent in US after-hours trading — initial reaction from Apple watchers has been more muted. Cook, according to a profile Business Insider recently ran on him, has apparently been leading the company during Jobs’ periods of absence.
With Jobs being widely heralded as the mastermind behind Apple’s resurgence after his return to the position of CEO in the late 90s, however, concern has also been expressed. Business Insider notes that Cook is not the “visionary” that Jobs is.
Cook ran Apple when Jobs went on medical leave and has essentially been running day-to-day operations since early this year with the company racking up record revenue and profit.
“The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” said Apple board member Art Levinson in a statement.
“Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does,” Levinson continued.
Cook was previously responsible for Apple’s worldwide sales and operations, including management of the supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries.
Concerns about Job’s resignation may be allayed with Jobs saying — and Apple’s board agreeing — that he would take on the position of Chairman of the board.
Quoted by CNN, the board clearly sought to allay those fears, writing in its reply to Jobs’ resignation:
Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” board member Art Levinson said. “In his new role as chairman of the board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.
Here is the full text of Jobs’ resignation letter addressed 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.
Jobs is a living legend in Silicon Valley. He is the beloved visionary behind the Macintosh computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad as well as the iTunes online shop.
He co-founded Academy-Award-winning Pixar in 1986 from a former Lucasfilm computer graphics unit that he reportedly bought from movie industry titan George Lucas for US$10-million.
Apple’s luster faded after Jobs left the company, but it reconciled in 1996 with Apple buying NeXT for US$429-million and Jobs ascending once again to the Apple throne.