In a month many had predicted to be dominated by news about the iPhone 5 and OS X Lion, Apple’s board of directors has unexpectedly announced that Steve Jobs has stepped down from Apple as CEO and will be replaced by Tim Cook, Apple’s current COO. Meanwhile, Jobs will be the chairman of the board.

Steve Jobs Smiling

This announcement dropped like a bombshell today and rippled through both the markets and devoted Apple followers who are now left wondering what’s next for Apple. In a press release, the Cupertino company doesn’t state a reason for Jobs’ sudden decision to depart, although we all know the likeliest reason: his health. Over the last decade, Jobs suffered from pancreatic cancer once, from which he recovered from rather quickly, but towards the end of the decade, his state of health started deteriorating, forcing Steve to step aside as CEO twice, once in 2009 and once again earlier this year. Indeed, Steve Jobs has been on a medical leave since early January, which wasn’t justified, although there’s a good amount of speculation that his cancer has returned. In a letter to Apple’s Board of Directors, Jobs makes it clear that it was his decision to step down since he was done playing his part for Apple:

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.

Steve Jobs, who founded Apple in 1976 along with Steve Wozniak, has been with Apple every step of away during good times and not-so-good ones. In the 1980s, Jobs was forced out from the company after the Board had decided to do so, just to return over a decade later and find the company in a dismal state and in need for quick repair. Jobs quickly moved to rebuild the company from the ground up, by completely discontinuing its antiquated product line and replacing it with a simple one that met the needs of both consumers and professionals, with products like the Mac, the PowerBook and the iBook. It was only several years later that Apple stepped into the music business with the introduction of iTunes and the iPod, which quickly became an icon in modern culture.

Steve Jobs iMac

Although Steve Jobs might be leaving as CEO, Apple’s board of directors has quickly moved to elect him as Chairman. Under this role, Jobs will continue providing insight about the company’s direction without the obligations associated with being the CEO. Tim Cook, who has been heading Apple’s daily operations for quite some time, will step up to the plate to take Jobs’ old position, as recommended by Steve himself. With Apple’s brilliant team, and Jobs’ diminished, yet continued insight, Apple will surely keep putting out new products and announcing record revenues every quarter. We hope so! Here is the complete resignation letter written by Steve to the board:

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.


(via Apple – 1, 2)

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