It had to happen sooner or later. Steve Jobs, the founder and most successful CEO that Apple ever had, has stepped down from the firm, with a letter that simply suggested executing the succession plan, and putting Tim Cook into the driving seat.
It's worth noting that he would like to remain as Chairman of the Board and continuing as an Apple employee, a request that was immediately granted. This quote from the board summarises Steve's importance to Apple over the years:
“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.”
Not bad from someone who grouped together a few hackers in a garage, and then took it to become the most valuable company in the world. Let's also not forget his role in Pixar and Next on the way, too.
It's easy to be accused of being an Apple Fanboi, but having started my programming career on a NeXT pizza box and learning Objective-C on Nextstep, it has been a career (and a set of products) that I have followed for decades. When OSX first came out, my company bought its first PowerBook G4, and from then, I've had a succession of Macs and MacBooks, from the Cube through to an original iMac in Bondi blue, and the original G5 cheese grater, all of which still work today. Meanwhile, in my garage, I have the remnants of various beige boxes in various states of disconnection whose sole purpose is to offer spares for my printer's memory and if I need to access a floppy for some reason.
I think this is the start of a gradual fade away from Steve; I suspect he might appear "One more time" at the next iPhone event, but thereafter he will be involved less and less. Whether that matters remains unclear; the design genius behind most of the recent Apple products has been Jonny Ive, and many of the hardware advances have been made by dedicated teams across Apple, which I'm sure will continue. But as iOS and OSX draw ever nearer, whether Steve's autocratic design filter will be replaced or whether it will even be needed remains to be seen.
Here's to the crazy ones. Here's to Steve Jobs.