Steve Jobs is stepping down as chief executive of the technology giant Apple. Jobs has been hailed as the visionary behind such ground-breaking products as the iPhone and iPad, but has been on medical leave since earlier this year. His departure raises questions about the company’s future.
Jobs’ latest leave of absence was his third since he underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004. He had a liver transplant two years ago.
In a letter to Apple’s board of directors, Jobs said if the day ever came when he could not meet his duties as chief executive, he would let them know. Unfortunately, he continued, the day has come.
An Apple statement said Jobs, who is 56, resigned late Wednesday and that the board named chief operating officer Tim Cook as the new chief executive, at Jobs’ suggestion.
Steve Jobs cofounded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, and the company released its first Macintosh computer eight years later. The board of directors would force Jobs out, but he returned in 1997 to lead Apple as it became one of the world’s most successful and profitable companies.
Jobs is known as a risk-taker. Media analyst Jonathan Taplin of the University of Southern California says he is one of the key innovators of the digital age, and that his keen sense of design led to distinctive products, from the iPod music player to iPad tablet computer.
“They have a very clean design that’s incredibly functional and a kind of natural sense of ease of use. And that’s what he always went for. I want to make this easy to use for anybody,” Taplin said.
He notes that Apple, with Jobs at its helm, has also changed the way we listen to music.
“The music business before Apple’s iTunes was a business of selling compact discs in stores. Today, there are hardly any stand-alone stores that sell compact discs because the business has moved online,” he said.
Apple stock dropped at least five percent in after-hours trading following Jobs' announcement.
Will the company continue to prosper? Analyst Taplin thinks so, noting that Jobs brought together at Apple a talented team of designers and managers.