Apple could hardly be performing any better. Everything Steve Jobs has touched since the iPod has turned to gold. But Apple may be in for a rude awakening with its iconic leader's decision to resign as CEO from the company he put on the map.
After speculation for years about his retirement in the face of poor health, Jobs is handing over the CEO reins to his number two, Tim Cook. Jobs won't be completely absent from the company. The board elected him chairman, but many industry watchers are convinced it won't be business as usual.
"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," Jobs wrote in his resignation letter. "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."
Health Questions Unanswered
Jobs expressed his desire to continue serving Apple, specifically as chairman of the board, a director, and an Apple employee. He also recommended Apple execute its succession plan, naming Cook, a 13-year Apple veteran, as CEO. As chief operating officer, Cook has handled the company's worldwide sales and operations, as well as heading Apple's Macintosh division.
Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech, responded to Jobs' resignation on behalf of Apple's board, praising Jobs' "extraordinary vision and leadership." When Jobs returned to the company as CEO in 1997, he "saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company," Levinson said.
"Steve has made countless contributions to Apple's success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple's immensely creative employees and world-class executive team. In his new role as chairman of the board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration," Levinson added.
Jobs took a medical leave of absence in January. His leave came after a liver transplant nearly a year before, opening the door to speculation that Jobs is once again having trouble with his liver. Jobs did not directly mention failing health, but given the history, many assumed the worst.
Uncertainty About Cook
Can Cook hold on to Apple's momentum?
"Steve was tied so closely to the job that he couldn't imagine life without Apple or Apple without him. So it made it virtually impossible to develop a real replacement," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "That's a problem, because Apple was uniquely designed around him. Once you are fired, as Steve was, you are deeply afraid of losing the job again involuntarily. Steve wouldn't even entertain the option."
So what happens to Apple now that Jobs is largely out of the equation?
Apple loses its magic, Enderle says, much like the Walt Disney Co. lost its magic when Walt Disney passed away. Although Enderle believes Apple could have trained a successor to step into Jobs' shoes more fully, Apple may not have started soon enough.
"Expecting a conventionally trained executive to do Steve's job is wishful thinking. It isn't going to happen," Enderle said.
"If it was easy to be Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer would be Steve Jobs. If it was easy to be Steve Jobs, Michael Dell would be Steve Jobs. The chairman of Ford, GM or any other company would be Steve Jobs. You just don't get that skill set often, and really, we haven't seen it since Disney. So it is a unique and very painful loss."
Posted: 2011-08-25 @ 2:18pm PT
Jobs knows his days are numbered on this earth. And what better way to end a very successful career then by stepping down while your on top. I have a feeling we will be hearing from him more then everyone thinks in the days to come. He will be very involved with anything that is "new" when it comes to Apple.
Posted: 2011-08-25 @ 2:01pm PT
So much stuff-Apple will survive and continue to innovate.