John Paczkowski

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Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple; Cook Takes Reins

Steve Jobs, Apple’s iconic leader, is stepping down as CEO, the company’s board of directors announced today. Jobs, who has been battling health problems, will remain as chairman. COO Tim Cook, who has filled in for Jobs during some of his past absences, will become the new CEO and join the board.

In a letter to Apple’s board of directors, Jobs — who has been on a leave of absence for an undisclosed condition since January — 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 offered no explanation for his departure beyond this, though its timing will undoubtedly raise questions about his health. Sources close to the company say Jobs has remained active at Apple. But recently his heath, which has been the topic of rumors in the past, has again become a subject of discussion among Silicon Valley executives.

Stunning news and a historic shift for Apple.

“While this marks the end of an era for Apple, I think it’s important to remember there’s more to Apple than any one person, even Steve Jobs,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told AllThingsD. “Continuing as chairman, Mr. Jobs will continue to leave his mark on both the company and products even as he transfers the reins to Mr. Cook. As my grandfather used to say, the cemeteries are full of people that can’t be replaced. “

Here’s the press release:

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.

“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, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s Board. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “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 submitted his resignation to the Board today and strongly recommended that the Board implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

As COO, Cook was previously responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post