BREAKING NEWS: Steve Jobs, the iconic leader of Apple, is stepping down as the company’s CEO, but will remain as chairman of the company. Tim Cook, the company’s respected chief operating officer, will replace the Apple co-founder as chief executive.

Reuters, the Associated Press and other news services just distributed news bulletins reporting the developments. Here’s the Apple news release, which notes that Jobs submitted his resignation today and “strongly recommended” Cook as CEO, implementing the company’s succession plan.

Jobs has struggled with health issues including pancreatic cancer and earlier this year announced that he was taking an indefinite medical leave.

Update, 4:03 p.m.: In the news release, Apple board member Art Levinson seeks to alleviate concerns about Jobs leaving the CEO’s office: “In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” says Levinson.

That suggests Jobs may be taking a more active role than Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has since leaving day-to-day executive duties at the Redmond company.

One major question: Have we seen our last Steve Jobs keynote?

[Follow-up: What Apple can learn from Microsoft in the Post-Jobs Era]

Here’s the full text of the news release:

Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “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.”

“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “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.”

Jobs submitted his resignation to the Board today and strongly recommended that the Board implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

As COO, 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 and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Update, 4:21 p.m.: Here’s the text of Jobs’ resignation 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

Comments

  • http://eyejot.com/users/davidg davidgeller

    Sad to know it’s health related. Otherwise, we should celebrate his enormous contributions and wish Tim Cook great success.

  • Guest

    Congratulations and happy trails to Mr. Jobs in his next endeavour! I look forward to great things from “Wheels of Jobs.”

  • http://www.richardbrownphotography.com/ Richard Brown Photography

    Tim will do a great job for apple and will do it like Steve, If I was Steve I would want to enjoy my success by now health issues or not, apple is all grown up.

  • http://www.richardbrownphotography.com/ Richard Brown Photography

    Tim will do a great job for apple and will do it like Steve, If I was Steve I would want to enjoy my success by now health issues or not, apple is all grown up.

  • Ray Burt

    Apple shares down 20% tomorrow.

    • Victor

      I think you mean $20 a share. It is trading in after-hours with this news at 357 and change. This is not exactly a shocker.

      • johnhcook

        Looks like the stock is down slightly in after hours trading. http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:AAPL

      • Ray Burt

        No, 20%. http://www.komonews.com/news/tech/128350093.html?abc=2guV7eLq shows stock already down 5% after hours … 20% tomorrow is possible.

        • Victor

          That sounds like a lot of wishful thinking, if you are a short-seller. This is one piece of info that has been public for nearly 2 years. The market is not stupid. AAPL trades at 13 time forward earnings, and growing at high double digits, I just don’t see a 20% haircut.

          • Ray Burt

            You are correct.

        • Guest

          Unlikely. But it will be taking the Nasdaq down with it whether it’s 5% or 20%.

          • Ray Burt

            Correct.

    • Guest

      You mean back to just flat on the year vs down 10-15% like MS?

  • Ray Burt

    Apple shares down 20% tomorrow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559140485 Howard Wu

    Tim Cook is replacing Jobs in title only, but not in function.  Tim is a great operations guy, but I am now going to be watching Jonathan Ive, Apple’s SVP of Industrial Design, very closely.  He had been leading the design team that generated all the great product concepts that Jobs pushed back, tweaked and greenlit over the last decade.  Without Jobs there as the final arbiter, will Ive shine even brighter or run amok?  Time will tell.  I am also curious as to whether other longtime Apple veterans will now trickle out the door.  I bet companies like Amazon, Samsung, LG, HTC, Google and Facebook are going cold calling a lot of Apple talents tomorrow.

  • http://blog.nordquist.org Brett Nordquist

    I would like to think that Apple will be just fine and that Jobs has groomed his replacement for many years. Sad to think about his health and how much longer he’ll be around. But I think Apple is going to be just fine. 

  • http://blog.nordquist.org Brett Nordquist

    I would like to think that Apple will be just fine and that Jobs has groomed his replacement for many years. Sad to think about his health and how much longer he’ll be around. But I think Apple is going to be just fine. 

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com FrankCatalano

    No matter how great Cook is, Apple will not be the same without Jobs. Jobs led the transition of Apple into the role of dominant consumer electronics company, becoming to consumers in the late 1990s and 2000s what Sony had been to consumers in the previous decade.

    From the June 1999 Seattle Weekly piece titled “Internet Apple-iance:”

    “Apple’s current poster child, the hugely successful iMac, is first and foremost a mass market information appliance disguised as a PC. Sure, you can run other Mac software on it — if you can find it. But what the iMac really excels at is simply being a slick Internet machine.

    “Much like the fruit offered up by Snow White’s nemesis, Jobs’ Apple is not what it seems. Jobs has simply—and quietly—transformed the personal computer maker into another type of company entirely: the maker of a niche operating system and consumer computing appliance.

    “The Mac as a mass-market Internet device that happens to run some basic software? There is a good market—the 50 percent of US households that don’t own PCs—in what Apple used to call “the rest of us” and what Jeff Goldblum touts in new Apple TV ads as “non-computer people.””

    Jobs succeeded in executing this vision and took Apple beyond a mere niche player. It’s sad his reign at Apple has to end this way. But it ends successfully … as a very tough act to follow.

  • GW fan

    It’s different this time. Jobs is not being asked to step down, but he is chosing to (granted due personal health reasons). And like a parent sending his kid off to college, he has put the company on a good path to success.

    And in light of his contributions, HP’s recent announcements, even Microsoft’s peek at the new start screen. this all does reinforce Jobsobservation that we are transitioning to a post PC era. That does not mean PCs are going away but we see new forms that mean they are no longer our singular device focus.

    Apple likely will be different, just as Microsoft is different after Gates departure, though likely Jobs will continue to coach from the sidelines.

    So we all knew this was inevitable. All of us that got started with Gates and Jobs are at an age where our lives were changing anyway.

    With the talent at Apple I don’t see Steve departure as a sign of disaster just a transition.

  • GW fan

    It’s different this time. Jobs is not being asked to step down, but he is chosing to (granted due personal health reasons). And like a parent sending his kid off to college, he has put the company on a good path to success.

    And in light of his contributions, HP’s recent announcements, even Microsoft’s peek at the new start screen. this all does reinforce Jobsobservation that we are transitioning to a post PC era. That does not mean PCs are going away but we see new forms that mean they are no longer our singular device focus.

    Apple likely will be different, just as Microsoft is different after Gates departure, though likely Jobs will continue to coach from the sidelines.

    So we all knew this was inevitable. All of us that got started with Gates and Jobs are at an age where our lives were changing anyway.

    With the talent at Apple I don’t see Steve departure as a sign of disaster just a transition.

  • Anonymous

    Hard to imagine a more successful run as CEO.  He build a strong enough foundation that Apple should continue to thrive without him.  Steve Jobs single-handedly changed the trajectory of my career.  I have him to thank for the fact that I love what I do.  

  • Guest

    “That suggests Jobs may be taking a more active role than Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has since leaving day-to-day executive duties at the Redmond company.”

    Yeah. Gates as absentee Chairman has been every bit as disastrous as Ballmer as CEO. In fact about the only thing Gates has done as Chairman is prevent anyone from firing SteveB — to MS’s overall detriment.

  • Bob

    What a shame. Clearly the best technology CEO in the industry and maybe the best of all time. What an amazing turnaround he executed. From almost bankrupt, to the most valuable company in technology. He may not be the most likable person, but he’s been unbelievably effective. And nowhere has he succeeded more than against that other Steve: Ballmer. Destroyed MS in music (twice). Then took over mobile despite MS having a ten year head start. Then disrupted the entire PC industry with iPad, again despite MS’s ten year head start, and took the lead in revenue, profit, and market cap.

    And unlike Ballmer, he’s left his successor with a company that is much better positioned than they one he inherited.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next. I don’t think you replace a Steve Jobs, but Apple has so much momentum right now that Cook should have several goods years before he really needs to produce on his own. And I wonder if Ballmer threw another chair tonight? Cause you gotta believe he’s was still harboring hopes of having the final laugh vs Jobs, as unlikely as that now is.

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