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Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO of Apple, and while he will continue as Apple’s chairman, his relinquishment of the title is a clear indication that he sees his time as Apple’s leader coming to an end.

Why has he decided to step down now, and what is the legacy he leaves behind? Until he cashes in by writing an autobiography, we won’t know for certain, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give it some thought.

Why Did Steve Jobs Resign?

Since the announcement that Jobs would be allowing Tim Cook to replace him as CEO, this question has been on the mind of every geek in the world. Certainly, there are reasons why he might have decided to take this action now as opposed to any other time, but he doesn’t let on to those reasons in his resignation letter.

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.

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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

The leading theory as to the reason for his resignation is simply health problems, as is suggested by the letter’s indication that Jobs can “no longer meet” his duties. I have no doubt that this is a significant factor in his decision to step down. He has fought a running battle with cancer that has had a noticeable effect on his personal appearance, turning this once chunky CEO into a stick figure. At worst, this timing could mean that Jobs was given some tragic news from his doctor. He has been tight-lipped about his health before, so I doubt he would inform the media if his days were numbered.

Yet Apple’s success likely contributed to this timing. The company is at this point the golden child of Silicon Valley. Profits have been climbing every quarter, and Cupertino has tens of billions of dollars in cash reserves. Given the importance of Jobs to Apple, his resignation could be potentially devastating – but the man is not immortal, and now is the best possible time for him to step down. No one at Apple was blind to the reality that he can’t continue as CEO forever, and it was likely felt that this opportunity should be seized even if Jobs could potentially carry on.

What Is Steve Jobs Leaving Behind?

In my opinion, Apple itself, as an entirety, is the legacy of Steve Jobs. After being booted from the company in 1984, he was brought back in to the fold when Apple purchased his company, NeXT. At that point, Apple was facing a downward spiral that seemed as if it could only end in bankruptcy or, more likely, purchased by a larger company, thus wiping out Apple’s unique identity.

Today, Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world and the eighth most profitable in the United States. This stunning turnaround was accomplished not by entering markets and fighting established competitors but rather by creating products unlike anything previously sold – first the iPod, then the iPhone 29 Web Apps Perfect for the iPhone 29 Web Apps Perfect for the iPhone Read More , and most recently the iPad Top 20 Free Apps for Your New iPad Top 20 Free Apps for Your New iPad Read More .

I’m a PC loyalist, and as such, I personally own few Apple products. Yet even I must admit that I owe Apple and Steve Jobs a great deal. Without him, there would be no excitement about tablets The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out While the iPad was able to jump on the tablet market before anyone else, Android tablets from competitors are starting to flow like water. There’s now a wide variety of options available and many of... Read More . Without him, the modern concept of a mobile app and/or app store may never have caught on. Without him, we might still be wrestling with bulky CD collections, or we could be dealing with a DRM heavy flash-memory format shoved down our throats by the record companies.

Given his contributions, it is understandable that his resignation would cause concern. However, I don’t believe his legacy is contained within the innovative products that were released during his tenure. His true genius is not merely the ability to develop products with a ruthless focus on design, but rather his ability to craft an entire organization that shares this same laser-fine focus.

Jobs was a stunningly competent CEO, but no great CEO creates an organization that will fall apart the moment he or she steps away. The company, not the products, is the legacy of Steve Jobs, and I suspect it is a legacy that will successfully continue without him.

What Do You Think Of Steve Jobs?

But obviously, this is my opinion.

Given Apple’s tight-lipped approach to corporate politics it’s hard to be absolutely certain of what’s happening inside Cupertino. Jobs is not a man who is universally loved, either. Some understandably see him as a bull-headed individual, and controversies such as the iOS location-tracking issue and a 2001 stock options debacle have hounded him, although they’ve done nothing to soil his reputation as Apple’s CEO.

Now it’s time to hear what you think. Was Steve Jobs an astounding CEO who created a strong company, or was he a dictator who propped up Apple with his own charisma? Does his resignation mean the end of an era, or will Apple continue on without issue? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Macworld, GSM Dome

  1. Minoj Selvaraj
    September 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

    i really like this article. I think the era has no end. will continue..

  2. James Bruce
    August 31, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Oh man - I write 1 paragraph about how he is good presenter, and I get 100 flame comments! You write a while article and not one nasty "you suck, fanboy" comment?! Ahh, the world is so unfair!

    • Matt Smith
      August 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      I must have done something wrong.

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