In case you don’t know (!), yesterday Steve Jobs officially resigned as Apple’s CEO. Now Tim Cook is, and Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board. You can read Jobs’s letter of resignation and Apple’s official press release on Apple’s site.
I first heard the news on Twitter, and since then I believe that already too much has been written about it. I’ve been reading so many silly reactions I’ve lost count.
I want to keep this piece brief, because really, there isn’t much to say. What I had to say to Steve Jobs, I wrote him in a one-line email message and that’s it. For the rest, I just want to emphasise a couple of facts which seem evident to me, but judging from some reactions perhaps are not.
1. Steve Jobs has not left Apple. Apparently for some people, resigning as CEO means leaving the company. The Board of Directors has immediately elected him as Chairman. I don’t know what a Chairman of the Board does in practice, but I believe it’s a role that gives Jobs more freedom of movement while keeping him in the loop regarding Apple’s direction and strategy.
2. Steve Jobs is not dead. A lot of comments on Twitter and elsewhere on the Web have this “Goodbye, Steve, and thanks for all the fish” tone I really find out of place. Same goes for other “The End of an Era”, “Apple is doomed” tweets and articles. Come on, people.
3. That Jobs’s decision has everything to do with his health is just an educated guess. Some other people have interpreted this announcement as “Steve Jobs is too ill to go on as CEO”. Perhaps he is, or perhaps it’s basically a precautionary move on his part. Better to resign at this particular moment, when Apple is at its best, than dragging things along and being forced to resign by the events, whatever they may be. It’s his choice now, so in a way it’s a winning, elegant move.
4. This announcement is just making things official. If you really think this hadn’t been planned for some time, you must be new to Apple. Tim Cook has been interim CEO first in 2004, as Jobs had to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer, then for the first half of 2009, and then again since January when Steve Jobs took another medical leave. I think that Tim Cook, internally, hasn’t stopped acting as CEO since 2009. It was time to make things official, and Jobs, as I said, couldn’t have chosen a better time, from a strategical standpoint. (Another comment on Twitter, aptly reported by Dan Frommer, further confirms my point: now that Jobs has officially resigned, the unknown factor of “When is Steve going to resign?” is removed, thus giving Apple a less uncertain future and probably even more stability in the stock market.)
5. We’re not back to 1997. Some people are worried that now that Jobs isn’t CEO anymore, Apple products will start losing the ‘magic’. This is, at best, a deeply near-sighted attitude. Jobs’s second tenure as CEO lasted 13 years, more or less. During these 13 years he has surrounded himself with people he trusts, people who share his views and aesthetics, people who — even if they didn’t share his views at first — have certainly learnt a lot from him in the meanwhile. But what’s even more important is that you keep in mind points 1 and 2 above: Steve Jobs is still there.
As I tweeted yesterday, Jobs doesn’t need a title to do what he does — he’s Apple’s very own monolith, à la 2001: a Space Odyssey.
Two final recommendations: one, read John Gruber’s Resigned piece. Two, stop the crap about Steve Jobs.