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Article from SFGate.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s iconic co-founder and the visionary behind many of its best-selling products, resigned as CEO on Wednesday, saying he could no longer fulfill his duties.

Jobs, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009, has been on medical leave from Apple since January. His resignation raised new fears that his health may have worsened.

“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,” Jobs, 56, wrote in a letter to Apple’s board. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

After Jobs submitted his resignation, Apple’s directors elected him to the board and made him chairman. Tim Cook, the company’s chief operating officer and its interim leader since January, was named CEO.

As evidence of Jobs’ perceived value to the company, Apple stock dropped 5 percent in after-hours trading, to $357.10.

Founded in 1976 in Cupertino by Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple helped spur the rise of personal computing with its Apple II and Macintosh computers. After being ousted from the company in 1985, Jobs returned to a near-bankrupt Apple in 1997 and spearheaded the creation of blockbuster devices like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Pop culture figure

Along the way, Jobs became a figure in popular culture, sought after for his insights into consumer desires and a marketing savvy that made him an unofficial evangelist of the digital age. A noted perfectionist, he is credited with having an impeccable sense of design, leading to products that have inspired devotion among users and generated hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for the company.

As a result, Apple has become the rare company to successfully reinvent itself multiple times. Roughly two-thirds of the company’s profits now come from devices that didn’t exist five years ago. This summer, for the first time, Apple briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil to become the world’s most valuable company. It is currently No. 2.

“Steve Jobs is the greatest leader our industry has ever known,” said Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff, who worked under Jobs at Apple, in an e-mail. “It’s the end of an era.”

Analysts said that few changes in Apple’s business will be evident right away.

“The actual product road map that Steve has already approved goes through 2015,” said Tim Bajarin, president of research firm Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple for 30 years. “In the short term, it should mean nothing. Even though Steve is critical for a lot of the vision, let’s keep in mind that he’s still alive and still chairman. He can still influence vision.”

During his most recent medical leave, Jobs has continued to make appearances at Apple events. In March he took the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to unveil the iPad 2, and in June he appeared at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference at Moscone Center to announce the coming iCloud service.

“In his new role as chairman of the board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” said Apple board member Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech, in a statement.

Long-term prospects

Still, questions linger about Apple’s long-term success. Sachin Agarwal, who worked at Apple as a developer for video-editing software Final Cut Pro from 2002 to 2008, said one of Jobs’ greatest assets was his willingness to say no – to delay or even abandon products that failed to meet his exacting standards.

Agarwal, who has since created the blogging and publishing platform Posterous, said friends at Apple have expressed concerns about the company’s future.

“I just don’t think anyone else in the company has shown, at least outwardly, that level of pushback and that quality standard,” he said, referring to Jobs. “I’m chatting with my Apple friends and there’s a lot of thought about it right now: ‘What do we do with our stock? What’s the company going to look like?’ ”

The attention now shifts to Cook, 50, who joined Apple in 1998. The Alabama native, who had previously worked at Compaq, quickly gained a reputation for being an operational genius – ensuring that the company made only as many products as it could sell, which made its supply chain the envy of the industry.

“The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” Levinson said. “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 also struck an optimistic note.

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it,” he wrote in his letter to the board. “And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”

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Here is a report from SF Gate.

“Apple, long the scrappy but innovative challenger to dominant Microsoft, has passed its rival in market capitalization, becoming the most valued technology company in the world.

The shift in fortunes became official at the close of the stock market Wednesday, when Apple’s market capitalization – the sum of its outstanding shares multiplied by its stock price – finished at $222.07 billion, ahead of Microsoft’s at $219.18 billion.

Though the distinction is merely a milestone, it culminates an amazing turnaround for Apple, which was given up for dead in 1997, when Apple founder Steve Jobs returned as CEO. Apple is now the second most valuable company in the United States after Exxon Mobil.

“This has got to be not only one of the greatest comeback stories, but success stories of the last 20 years,” said analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “You see companies coming back from the dead, but not to the point where they achieve this staggering financial position.”

Since September 16, 1997, when Jobs returned as CEO and Apple shares traded at $5.49 per share, the stock has surged 4,346 percent and now trades at $244.11 per share. Over the last five years, Apple’s stock has grown about 600 percent while Microsoft’s managed a modest 5 percent growth.

The shift validates Apple’s strategy of focusing on smart phone and tablet technology, which is on track to eventually outgrow the traditional PC business.

Michael Mace, who worked at Apple for 10 years prior to Jobs’ return, said Apple held the upper hand in the rivalry with Microsoft before being passed in the early 1990s. He said after that point, most employees gave up any hope of rivaling Microsoft financially.

“When a company runs away from you, you usually don’t get a chance to run them back down,” said Mace, a consultant with Rubicon Consulting. “But what Steve (Jobs) has managed to do is produce a series of seminal, meaningful, market-changing products.”

Apple found new life by remaking itself as a mobile company. While it continues to snag more PC market share from Microsoft’s Windows operating system, it is setting the pace of innovation in mobile devices.

Starting with its iPod media players in 2001 and more recently with the iPhone in 2007, Apple has become a leader in building the kind of portable devices that appeal to users. Apple’s iPods command more than 70 percent of the digital-player market, while the iPhone represents a quarter of the smart phones in the United States.

Now, with the iPad tablet selling a million units in its first month, Apple is leading that market as well.

“Apple is sitting on a gigantic business that’s just taking off,” said Leander Kahney, editor of the Cult of Mac blog, who’s written several books on Apple.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has struggled to grow beyond its roots in PC operating systems and applications. Its Zune media player and Windows Mobile operating system are not clicking with consumers. On Tuesday, the company announced a management shakeup in its gadgets and games division.”

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Here is a good article from SF Chronicle that sheds some light on Apple and its renewed strategy on Mobile devices. With its launch of iPad, as well as the consious sidestepping from flash, a new and clear focus on iTunes and Appstore becomes much clearer – the focus on being the entertainment and content provider of consumer entertainment, and controlling the accesspoints secures large revenues from the convert. The larger question is if there are new areas previously untapped in this strategy that represent next level. With clear focus on casual consumption, everyday content and easy access, I have problem seeing next product line within this strategy.

– Patric

“Apple’s recent unveiling of the iPad was primarily a product announcement aimed at priming the pump for consumers, developers and content owners.

But for the notoriously secretive company, the iPad event provided observers with a glimpse of the company’s growing ambitions and strategies.

By trumpeting its own chipset for the iPad, passing on Adobe Flash software and putting even more emphasis on its iTunes system, Apple appears intent on tightening its command over the user experience and delivering a distinct vision of mobile computing, Internet connectivity and media consumption.

But perhaps the most obvious upshot of the latest unveiling was Apple’s continued recognition that its future, unlike its origin, is tied to mobile devices. Three years after dropping the word “computer” from its name, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs said the company’s annual revenue of $50 billion from iPhones, iPods and MacBook laptops make it the largest maker of mobile devices in the world.

“Apple is a mobile devices company – that’s what we do,” said Jobs, during the iPad event.

Tim Bajarin, president of technology consultancy Creative Strategies, said Apple recognizes that the computing landscape is expanding to a model in which everyone carries around an Internet device. With the iPad, Apple is seeking to shape and stay ahead of that future.

“Apple’s role is to bring digital technology to the masses,” said Bajarin. “They don’t believe it’s restricted to a desktop or a phone – it should come in all types of devices.”

While the iPad represents a new hardware market, some observers see the device as expanding Apple’s business in services and content delivery.

“In 10 years, Apple will be just as much of a services and a software play as a device manufacturer,” said J. Gerry Purdy, an analyst with MobileTrax, a mobile research firm. “I think that gives them a tremendous playing field opportunity.”

Making chips itself

Apple’s introduction of its own chipset for the iPad – called the A4 – suggests that the Cupertino company is even more focused on the marriage between its hardware and software, eschewing third-party chips that are used by most rivals.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64, questioned whether Apple’s chipset will outperform rival technology from Nvidia or Qualcomm. But he said the approach can result in some savings if it’s applied on a significant scale. And it allows the company to be less dependent on outside suppliers.

But perhaps most importantly, it gives Apple a way to tune its chips to fit the exact needs of its devices and software, allowing the company to achieve better performance and battery life.

“Apple’s gone from buying something off the rack to buying something where they have the pieces and they can tailor it themselves to their unique body shape,” Brookwood said.

Brookwood said he expects to see more of the A4 chipset if the iPad proves successful.

Apple’s iPad announcement also revealed a deeper antipathy toward Adobe Flash, the ubiquitous browser plug-in that enables most of the video and animations you see on the Web.

At the press event, Jobs avoided any mention of Flash, even when selling the iPad as delivering the Internet in your hand. And at a company staff meeting a few days later, Jobs reportedly called Adobe’s browser plug-in “buggy” and said the world will be moving to HTML5, a new Web language that will eliminate the need for Flash in many instances.

Tech pundits said Apple’s crusade against Flash appears to be philosophical, practical and political. The opposition might be a way to steer consumers to Apple’s iTunes and App Store, where they can find video content and applications that replicate the Flash content, often at a price.

“Apple’s position is they want to move things off the Web to the (iTunes) App Store,” said David Wadhwani, vice president and general manager of Adobe’s platform business. “Our position is we will support both models and let the consumer choose.”

Flash the next floppy disk?

Apple also appears reluctant to allow San Jose’s Adobe access to its iPhone operating system, especially when its Flash software is the cause of most of its crashes on the Mac, a claim Jobs reportedly made at his staff meeting. By advocating HTML5, Jobs could be attempting to help precipitate the decline of Flash, something he also predicted with floppy disk drives and more recently optical drives, wrote Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist for online magazine Slate.

“Jobs could be betting that the same thing will happen with Flash,” Manjoo said. “There will be a lot of whining in the short run, but in time, we’ll all forget we ever wanted it and keep buying iPads.”

With Apple’s decision to go with the iPhone operating system, instead of Mac OS X or a hybrid, the company seems even more intent on using it as a major platform for mobile development. Apple has outpaced rivals in the mobile application market with more than 140,000 apps, but it has faced increasing competition from Google’s Android, which is also being pitched as a tablet operating system.”

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