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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.”

Read more here.

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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 some intriguing new opportunities for iPad developers.

“Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said Wednesday that it is doubling a fund that focuses on the iPhone and iPod Touch to $200 million to include new applications for the upcoming iPad.

Partner John Doerr said Kleiner Perkins has exhausted its original $100 million iFund that it began two years ago. Now with the iPad coming, he said the application boom that began on the iPhone will extend into a new wave of iPad apps that transforms the way people interact with computers.

“We will move beyond spread sheets, word processors and Web sites limited by a browser to an interactive, connected world with incredible speed and fluidity,” Doerr said during a press event near its headquarters.

The public support from a respected venture capital firm lends more momentum to the launch of the iPad this Saturday and gives developers more incentive to develop dedicated iPad apps. The fund could help seed a new generation of iPad app companies that help define the device much the way early iFund recipients led the way for the iPhone.

The original iFund supported 14 companies, including the well-known Ngmoco, Pinger, Shazam and Booyah. The companies have collectively made more than $100 million and accounted for more than 100 million downloads.

Doerr said those companies have more than 20 iPad specific apps in the works with at least 11 to be released Saturday when the iPad goes on sale.

Many of the iFund companies have had a chance to work with the iPad. Some executives on Wednesday talked about how the device will create more engaging and longer experiences that require more thought and can lead to more profitable and memorable apps.

“We’re really trying to take advantage of the added real estate, and we’re trying to leverage the way users want to use the device,” said Neil Young, CEO and founder of gaming company Ngmoco, which is bringing three new games to the iPad. “The iPad has the opportunity to revolutionize gaming in the home in the same way the iPhone and iPod Touch revolutionized gaming on the go.”

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Here is a good weekend article around youth online behaviours well worth a reading. The SF Chronichle article points out that Twitter has failed to catch up among the young, Myspace invites for blogging in contrary to Facebook that is more of a staus/ short message socializing forum.

Questions that I get from this is how to reach the youth with businessmodels, enabling profits, advertising etc. Also, if the lifecycles of products are as shorts as a few years, what happens with existing, but declining businesses?

Gerbsman Partners are able to provide leadership in this questions, please contact us for more information.

“Teenagers and young adults spent less time blogging during the past three years as social networks like Facebook became more popular, according to a Pew Research Center study released Wednesday.

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Since its inception in July last year, Appstore has become a steady and viable business model for Apple. With over 1 Billion downloads, its fair to say that the rest of the mobile industry needs to take a very close look at the model.

As a result, Apple can now show some very significant numbers towards the mobile content market.

“There are over 37 million devices running Apple’s mobile operating system: over 21 million iPhones and over 15 million iPod touches (with 35,000+ apps available in the store) according to the company. Besides driving the success of the App Store, these devices also helped Apple control 50 percent of the mobile ad market and drive the most mobile OS Internet traffic in the U.S., according to the latest market reports.”

In relation to mobile advertising, the PC World story continues;

AdMob’s research shows that the iPhone and iPod touch serve around 50 percent of the mobile ad requests in the U.S., followed by Research In Motion with 22 percent and Windows Mobile with 11 percent. Worldwide, Apple’s handsets go neck-to-neck with Nokia‘s when it comes to traffic generated by smartphones. AdMob’s data shows that Apple’s devices drive the most traffic world wide, counting in at 38 percent.”

Mashable, which mainly covers Web 2.0 news, made an interesting comparrison.

“The milestones comes just over three months after the company surpassed 500 million downloads, and about nine months since launching.

While it’s certainly an enormous milestone, how does it compare to some other massive numbers that various Web companies have reached recently? Here’s a look at a few huge stats:

While impressive in its own, and somewhat unrelated to eachother – web.20 have proven to produce some gigantic numbers that are serving as benchmarks for success.

Comprehensive blog coverage can be found here:  IntoMobile, MediaMemo, TechCrunch, SciTechBlog

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Here is a quote from Matt Murphy KPCB in regards to their iFund and what focus it has.

Matt Murphy, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: We are seeing at the iFund 15 percent enterprise, 85 percent consumer, with even distribution between social networking, games, communication and stuff like that. Right now they’re simple, lightweight, fun, easy to use — given that we’re only three months into this and six months since we launched the SDK, pretty good. Not bad revenue streams either. I’m most excited going forward about the next wave of more sophisticated applications.”

Read more at GigaOm here

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Here is a excellent article from BusinessWeek about Appstore from Apple.

I was once an App Store skeptic. When Apple (AAPL) said it would use the iTunes online store to host a range of applications from third-party developers for its iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices, I doubted that this newcomer to wireless would get things right in the first go. Surely major cellular carriers would block outsiders’ data-hogging features. And would Apple really let indie coders tinker with its vaunted iPhone?

As I write this, I’m eating crow. After trying out Apple’s App Store for the past few weeks, I can say categorically that Apple has hit another home run. The App Store has truly unshackled the high-end cell phone.”

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