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Without Jobs, Apple must show it can still deliver

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With Steve Jobs bowing out as CEO, Apple Inc.

must persuade investors and consumers that it doesn’t need the

force behind the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad in charge to keep the

technology hits coming.

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Tim Cook, his hand-picked successor, has handled the top job

repeatedly in the absence of the ailing Jobs, who resigned as chief

executive Wednesday and was elected chairman of Apple’s board.

Though not nearly as recognizable as Jobs, Cook had been running

Apple since January. The company’s stock rose 62 percent when Cook

was in charge in the first half of 2009, and it gained 8 percent

since Jobs announced his most recent leave.

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On Thursday, Apple’s stock fell $4.03, or about 1 percent, to

$372.16 in midday trading, but the entire market was down by an

equal amount as well.

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Jeff Gamet, managing editor of Apple-focused news site The Mac

Observer, said Jobs’ departure has more sentimental than practical

significance. He said he has been telegraphing the change for

several years.

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“All Apple really has done is made official what they’ve been doing

administratively for a while now, which is Tim runs the show and

Steve gets to do his part to make sure the products come out to

meet the Apple standard,” he said.

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But Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said

Jobs’ maniacal attention to detail is what has set Apple apart. He

said Apple’s product pipeline might be secure for another few

years, but he predicted that the company will eventually struggle

to come up with market-changing ideas.

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“Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is

innovation,” Chowdhry said. “You can teach people how to be

operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how

to do that, but God creates innovation. … Apple without Steve

Jobs is nothing.”

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Jobs’ resignation appears to be the result of an unspecified

medical condition for which he took a leave from his post in

January.

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In a letter addressed to Apple’s board and the “Apple community,”

Jobs said he “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.”

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Jobs’ health has long been a concern for Apple investors, who see

him as an oracle of technology. He had previously survived

pancreatic cancer and received a liver transplant.

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The company said Jobs gave the board his resignation Wednesday and

suggested that Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, be named the

company’s new leader. Apple also said Cook is becoming a member of

its board.

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Genentech Inc. Chairman Art Levinson, in a statement issued on

behalf of Apple’s board, said Jobs’ “extraordinary vision and

leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s

most innovative and valuable technology company.”

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He said that Jobs will continue to provide “his unique insights,

creativity and inspiration,” and that the board has “complete

confidence” that Cook is the right person to replace

him.

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“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,” Levinson said.

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Earlier this month Apple briefly became the most valuable company

in America, surpassing Exxon Mobil. At the market close Wednesday,

Apple’s value was $349 billion, just behind Exxon Mobil’s $358

billion.

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Jobs’ hits seemed to grow bigger as the years went on: After the

colorful iMac computer and the now-ubiquitous iPod, the iPhone

redefined the category of smartphones and the iPad all but created

the market for tablet computers.

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His own aura seemed part of the attraction. On stage at trade shows

and company events in his uniform of jeans, sneakers and black

mock-turtlenecks, he’d entrance audiences with new devices, new

colors and new software features, building up to a grand finale

he’d predictably preface by saying, “One more thing.”

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Jobs, 56, shepherded Apple from a two-man startup to Silicon Valley

darling when the Apple II, the first computer for regular people to

really catch on, sent IBM Corp. and others scrambling to get their

own PCs to market.

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After Apple suffered a slump in the mid-1980s, he was forced out of

the company. He was CEO at Next, another computer company, and

Pixar, the computer-animation company that produced “Toy Story” on

his watch, over the following 10 years.

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Apple was foundering as he returned as an adviser in 1996 – a year

it lost $900 million as PCs based on Microsoft Windows dominated

the computer market. The company’s fortunes began to turn around

with its first new product under Jobs’ direction, the iMac. It

launched in 1998 and sold about 2 million in its first 12

months.

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Jobs eventually became interim CEO, then took the job permanently.

Apple’s popularity grew in the U.S. throughout the 2000s as the

ever-sleeker line of iPods introduced many lifelong Windows users

to their first Apple gadget. Apple created another sensation in

2007 with the iPhone, the stark-looking but powerful smartphone

that quickly dominated the industry.

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The iPad was introduced less than a year and a half ago but has

already sold nearly 29 million units as it inspired myriad rivals

in a tablet computer market that scarcely existed before Apple

stepped in.

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There have been some setbacks. Apple was swept up in a massive

Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into stock options

backdating in the mid-2000s, a practice that artificially boosted

the value of options grants. But Jobs and Apple emerged unscathed

after two former executives took the fall and eventually settled

with the SEC.

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AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco contributed

to this report.

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