In shocking announcement from Cupertino this afternoon, Apple has announced that founder Steve Jobs will no longer act as the company's CEO. In a letter sent to the Apple board today, Mr. Jobs admitted that the time has come where he can no longer fulfill his duties as Chief Executive Officer of Apple. Jobs went on to "strongly recommend" Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook be his replacement and said he would like to stay on as Chairman if the company's board sees fit.
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
Apple has since confirmed the news with a press release announcing Tim Cook as Steve's replacement and revealing that the board has named Jobs Chairman. New CEO Cook will also be joining the board.
Steve Jobs has been on medical leave from Apple since January 2011. Neither Jobs nor Apple have explained the reason behind the extended leave, except to say that Steve was leaving to "focus on his health." The Apple founder took a leave of absence in January 2009 and it later emerged that he had undergone a liver transplant in the spring of 2009. Jobs was also treated for pancreatic cancer in 2004. He is said to have attempted to treat the islet cell neuroendocrine tumor with a special diet before agreeing to have surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was successful and Jobs did not require chemotherapy or radiation.
Tim Cook has acted as CEO during all of Jobs' absences. According to Apple, Cook was previously responsible for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple's supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple's Macintosh division.
Given Steve Jobs prominent role in the day-to-day operations at Apple, the company's stock routinely suffers when news, or even rumors, regarding his health do the rounds. It's often said that Apple would suffer significantly if Steve Jobs were to leave the company. To that end, his health, and indeed his medical leave from Apple, frequently leads to debates about whether or not shareholders deserve to know personal details about Steve Jobs' health. Today's news comes at a time when Apple is rumored to be on the verge of announcing a new iPhone (and possibly a new iPad, too). Both events will likely have an impact on Apple shares.