Iconic Steve Jobs stepped down as chief executive officer of Apple Inc — the maker of Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods and more — on Wednesday citing inability to continue in the top job, bringing the end to a trail-blazing career that shaped an era.
Tim Cook, the chief operations officer, replaced Jobs, who has been suffering from cancer, with immediate effect, but the technology whizkid will stay on as chairman of the board.
“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, 56, said in a letter to the company’s board.
Jobs, a radical vegan, has been struggling with health problems for a long time. It was pancreatic cancer first, treated in 2004. He then underwent a liver transplant two years ago.
He proceeded on leave this January to focus on his health, handing over command of the company to Cook. Jobs’s health has since been an issue of speculation with several reports going wildly over the top.
Jobs kept up his public appearances, however. He showed up at a San Francisco dinner with President Obama and other technology leaders such as Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Eric Schmidt (Google) and Larry Ellison (Oracle) day after a tabloid declared him dying.
Nothing could have been more wrong. Jobs appeared at a March event in San Francisco to launch the iPad 2 – about a year after the wonder product iPad. And then later, in June he showed up to introduce the iCloud and iOS 5, the latest Apple’s offerings.
But running the company as CEO was probably getting difficult.
Apple touched the market top as the highest valued company earlier this month, coming a long way from its humble origins in 1976.
After being ousted from Apple in his first stint, Jobs, known for his trademark turtlenecks and jeans, went on to found a company that bought Pixar from George Lucas, maker of the Star Wars, and hit gold with computer generated animated films Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, to a struggling company, and took it to the top again.
“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, Genentech chairman, on behalf of Apple's Board. This Apple defied gravity
Some Apple watchers believe Cook lacks Jobs’s vision though Levinson said the board had complete confidence in the man with “remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”