A portion of Steve Jobs’ statement:
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.
Apple’s full press release indicates that the board just did exactly that:
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.
John Gruber was right about the succession plan (which shouldn’t be a huge surprise). Note that none of Steve’s or Apple PR’s language indicates that Cook’s CEO role is interim or temporary.
I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of opinions and speculation on this over the next few days. I’m not really sure what to say, except that while I think this will cause a lot of short-term doubt about Apple’s future, most of that concern is unwarranted.
Steve has been executing a gradual departure from Apple for the last few years. He’s incredibly forward-thinking, cares deeply about Apple and its future, and has certainly ensured that there’s a plan and a process to completely replace him. This is simply the next step — a big step, granted — in that process.
I think it’s premature to say goodbye. This change effectively makes Steve’s medical leave permanent: while I don’t know the details of his situation, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to guess that he’ll probably be about as involved in the company’s decision-making as he’s been for the last few months.
Regardless, it’s rarely a bad idea to tell someone how much you appreciate their work, even if it’s not yet finished.
Steve, if for some crazy reason you’re reading this:
You’ve defined a generation and changed the world.
We wish you the best.