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Apple After Steve Jobs

Aug 24 03:40

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

Steve Jobs in 2009
After 14 years as Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs resigned his post on Wednesday and was replaced by Tim Cook, who previously was the company's Chief Operating Officer. Jobs, in turn, was elected as chairman of Apple's board of directors.

"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 said in a letter addressed "to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community."

"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," Jobs wrote. "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."

"In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration," board member and Genentech chairman Art Levinson said in an Apple press release. “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company. 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."

Jobs had been on a medical leave of absence since January 2011. He continued to hold the CEO title while Cook oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company. At the time, Jobs told Apple employees he was taking a leave from his day-to-day duties to “focus on my health.”

“I’m obviously concerned for Steve,” analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies told Macworld. “It’s logical to believe that something’s related to his health.” Bajarin was quick to point out, however, that “he’s still chairman... he’s saying he can’t handle the role of CEO.”

“While I am concerned about Steve personally, I am not concerned about Apple,” Bajarin said. “You’ve got a very deep bench of managers and executives who know how Jobs thinks, feels, and his vision.”

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Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg echoed those sentiments, noting that “while this marks the end of an era for Apple, it’s important to remember the 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 reigns to Mr. Cook.”

Jobs is "an icon and what he's done with Apple is something probably unprecedented in business," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "It will be a case study in business school books for decades."

Jobs had previously taken a six-month leave of absence from Apple in 2009, ultimately undergoing a liver transplant. He had also battled pancreatic cancer in 2004.

Despite his leave of absence from the company, Jobs had remained involved with Apple’s long-term efforts. He appeared at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, handling presentation duties for the section on Apple’s upcoming iCloud service. Jobs also made a surprise appearance at Apple’s iPad 2 press event in March.

Two stints at Apple

Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976, along with Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne. With Wozniak, he helped develop the Apple I and Apple II, and, in 1984, introduced the Macintosh to the world. However, he clashed with the company’s CEO, John Sculley, in 1985 and left to found a new company, Next Computer. He also acquired animation company Pixar from filmmaker George Lucas in 1986, later selling it to Disney and becoming a member of the media conglomerate’s board of directors, as well as its largest individual shareholder.

In 1997, Apple acquired Next and Jobs returned to the company to take up the CEO mantle. While Jobs initially served in an interim CEO capacity, replacing ousted chief executive Gil Amelio, he moved into the top role for good in 2000.

During his time at the helm, Apple released a number of groundbreaking products, including the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. Jobs also presided over a revitalization of the company’s Mac line: Apple introduced its iMac desktop computer in 1998, shortly after his return. Jobs’s return also heralded the end of a pair of prominent but controversial projects, including the licensing of the Mac OS to third-party hardware companies, and the Newton personal digital assistant.

Among Jobs’s other accomplishments as CEO were the launch of the iTunes Music Store in 2003, which went on to become the top music retailer in the U.S. The store, combined with the iconic iPod, popularized the selling of digital music, and later expanded its content to include movies, television shows, podcasts, audiobooks, ebooks, and, of course, apps for Apple’s mobile iOS platform.

Over the course of his tenure, Apple saw unprecedented success, rising from the edge of its demise to become, by some measurements, the most valuable company in the world. That hasn’t always meant popular actions—when Jobs returned in 1997, it was with an influx of $150 million from Microsoft, then considered the company’s arch-rival. But a decade later, the company had become hugely profitable and, as of its most recent financial statements, now sits on a cash reserve of more than $76 billion.

Full text of Jobs's letter

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

[Updated several times throughout the afternoon to add more information, quotes from analysts, and background on Jobs. Macworld editors Dan Moren and Serenity Caldwell and the IDG News Service's Nancy Gohring contributed to this story.]

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Aug 24 04:30

Apple turns to Tim Cook to replace Steve Jobs

Apple's newest CEO has a tough act to follow. But in turning to chief operating officer Tim Cook to replace Steve Jobs in the wake of the latter’s resignation Wednesday, Apple's board of directors has chosen a familiar face with a proven track record with the company.

Cook is no stranger to the spotlight. He's handled the day-to-day CEO duties at Apple since Jobs took a medical leave of absence in January. That marked the third time Cook has overseen the company—he was also interim CEO in 2004 as Jobs underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer and again for the first half of 2009 as Jobs dealt with more health issues.

And now he’s the official CEO. Jobs’s resignation letter refers to an already-in-place succession plan, which was rumored to exist back in July.

Wired once described Tim Cook as “[a] quiet, soft-spoken, low-key executive,” and “the yin to Jobs’s yang.” He’s 50 years old, holds a degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University, and an MBA from Duke University.

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Aug 25 12:30

What challenges does Tim Cook's Apple face?

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple for years rallied around its charismatic co-founder, Steve Jobs, so it’s only natural now to question whether the company can retain its market dominance and magic with a new leader.

Jobs, who stepped down as the company’s CEO on Wednesday, has stamped his personality on Apple’s operations and products. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple not only sparked the personal computing revolution in the 1970s and 1980s, but more recently established new directions in technology with iconic products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Jobs has been replaced as CEO by Tim Cook, formerly the company’s chief operating officer, who was Apple’s public face during Jobs’ medical leaves. Cook is considered an operations person, but has shown his ability to run Apple’s day-to-day operations during Jobs’ leaves of absence.

Cook has the drive and has also silently been at the center of Apple’s recent successes, said Edward Marczak, an author and executive editor of MacTech magazine.

“While the market may worry, those who have stuck by Apple through it all know there’s only more excellence ahead,” Marczak said.

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Aug 24 10:30

Life after Jobs: Why Apple isn't doomed

The greatest fallacy in the story of Steve Jobs stepping down as Apple CEO, the one you’ll find in endless media reports, is this: In 1985 after Steve Jobs left Apple, the company went on a downhill slide that led it to the brink of bankruptcy. Therefore, the Apple of 2011 is at risk of doing the same.

The factual statements are true, so far as they go. Steve Jobs did leave Apple in the mid-80s, and a succession of Apple CEOs named Sculley and Spindler and Amelio did manage to nearly run Apple into the ground over the next 12 years.

But the flaw in the History Repeats Itself storyline being promoted in some corners as Jobs steps down as CEO is that the Apple of today is nothing like the Apple of 1985.

When Steve Jobs left Apple the first time, I was finishing my freshman year of high school. As a result, I have no insider knowledge of that era. Eight years later, I was covering Apple… and Apple rapidly went through three CEOs who made numerous bad decisions that led Apple to the brink of disaster. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, was building a company (Next) that had created an interesting computer operating system that was being used by approximately nobody.

The magic happened when Jobs came back to Apple, so when I say that Gil Amelio helped run Apple into the ground, I have to admit that he also made the decision that saved Apple’s life: He bought Next and didn’t just get the foundation of Mac OS X (and eventually iOS)—he also got Steve Jobs.

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Aug 25 11:35

Why you should be excited about a post-Jobs Apple

There was a time when I was convinced that the end of Steve Jobs’s tenure as Apple’s CEO would be the moment I cashed in my tech journalism credentials and walked away.

Because Jobs is that rare thing: a visionary who excelled at both business and showmanship. It sometimes seemed to me as though he single-handedly kept the technology field exciting and passionate, especially in a world that had increasingly become obsessed with specifications and market share. While some—my colleagues included—have decried Jobs’s insistence on referring to Apple’s products as “magical,” I always thought of it as Jobs in a rare struggle to find the right word for describing that ineffable feeling of using an Apple product.

Tim Cook (left) and Steve Jobs at a 2010 press conference

In terms of sheer presence, I’m not sure anybody will ever match Apple’s co-founder. I enjoyed watching Jobs’s many keynotes at Macworld Expo and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, first as a technology professional and interested consumer then later as a journalist. And even in the man’s rare missteps—the iMac’s hockey puck mouse, the buttonless iPod shuffle—I never lost the feeling that Apple was in good hands.

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Aug 26 09:45

Steve Jobs's impact goes beyond technology

The onslaught of news stories in the wake of Steve Jobs’s resignation as Apple’s CEO shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Jobs leaves his CEO post having completed a tremendously successful reign as head of one of the U.S.’s most valuable companies. But there’s been an emotional tenor to a lot of the coverage you wouldn’t expect to see if, say, the head of Exxon Mobil decided to call it a career.

Then again, that emotional response isn’t all that surprising, either. It speaks to the lasting effects that a Steve Jobs-led Apple has had on the lives of many of its customers. Speaking personally, no corporate CEO can match the impact that Steve’s leadership at Apple has had on my life.

The Steve Jobs vision

It’s hard to nail down any single moment from Steve Jobs’s Apple career as being the one most important decision he made. But my vote is for his choice—his insistence—that computers ought to be easy to use, accessible to everyone. Steve didn’t invent the term “user-friendly,” but he believed that Apple’s products should exemplify it.

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Aug 25 12:07

Readers react to Steve Jobs's resignation

When news broke Wednesday that Steve Jobs would step down as Apple’s CEO, it wasn’t long before Twitter exploded with instant reactions from consumers, pundits, and developers. Responses ran the gamut from the monosyllabic (my own feed was packed with people saying “Wow,” “Shocked,” and “Whoa”) to the nostalgic (“My favorite Jobs memories: attending the Boston NeXT launch, and spotting him at the back of a crowd at Pixar’s ‘89 SIGGRAPH booth, beaming,” Technologizer’s Harry McCracken recalled).

If you’re interested in reading some of the other consumer and pundit Twitter reactions to the news, Macworld put together a collection using Tweet Library; Manton Reese also assembled a collection, as did I.

But we’re not just interested in pundit reaction: We wanted to know what Macworld readers thought about Jobs’s resignation. Here’s a collection of some of the letters and forum posts we’ve received.

The resignation

His resignation will carry reverberations around the world. I so hope that it isn’t because of any serious downgrade to his health. I hope he has just decided to go out on top. What an outstanding leader of technology, a man of tremendous vision.
— SomethingWicked, via Macworld Forums

Steve picked the perfect time to do this. In less than a month, iOS 5, iPhone 5, and iCloud are going to drop like a nuclear bomb on the phone/computer/consumer electronics world. After the panicky Wall Streeters who absolutely do not understand Apple sell off tomorrow and cause the stock to drop, it will rebound like a rocket over the next quarter. Too bad I can’t afford to buy any of the stock.
— wolfandfox, via Macworld forums

It sounds like this makes the current temporary situation permanent: During his medical leave of absence, Tim Cook has been handling the day-to-day running of the company while Steve has provided oversight and direction.

Steve has been an incredible leader for this company and I wish the best for him, his health, his family, and his new job as Chairman. Back when he and Woz first founded Apple, he set out to do more than make computers. He said he wanted to change the world. Few people, and no other tech leader I know of, has done more to change the world.
— Richard Connamacher, via Macworld forums

After suffering through what passed as personal computers in the early 1980s, I was elated when Jobs announced the Macintosh in 1984. I bought an original Mac and haven’t looked back. It changed my life. It allowed me to make a living without working for a corporation. As Jobs once said, it was the equivalent of “a bicycle for our minds.”

Jobs was always driven by far more than money. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me,” he once said. “Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful... that’s what matters to me.” How many modern CEOs would admit that?

I would like to think that Apple could continue to function as the genius company that it has been. But I know better. It will return to Earth, especially when it’s time to invent that next great thing. Real genius is very, very rare—especially in today’s world. Steve Jobs has it, while others don’t. It’s a sad fact that geniuses like him come very rarely.

Jobs has the moral compass of a man who came of age in the 60s. It’s a proud legacy, and one I understand and admire. Others might learn from it, if they only could.
— Frank Beacham, via email

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