Steve Jobs is stepping down as chief executive officer of Apple.
Tim Cook, formerly Apple's chief operating officer, has been elected the company's new CEO. Jobs has been elected the company's chairman.
Immediately after the news broke, Apple stock fell over 6.6 percent to $351 in after hours trading.
In a resignation letter to staff, Jobs — a pancreatic cancer survivor and recipient of a liver transplant in 2009 –said he was no longer able to maintain control of Apple's day-to-day operations, but he did not specifically cite poor health.
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"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 wrote. "Unfortunately, that day has come."
However, when he took a leave of absence from the company last winter, Jobs attributed the move to medical reasons, though remaining vague about specifics. He also took leaves in 2004, when he announced he had pancreatic cancer, and in January 2009 for the transplant.
He did make a brief appearance last June at the the Worldwide Developers Conference. Looking extremely gaunt, the 55-year-old Jobs helped unveil the company's new cloud-based system, the iCloud.
Despite his medical struggles, though, Jobs' imprint can be seen on many of the premiere items that helped fuel Apple's move from bit player in the computer industry to leader in digital media. From iPhones to iPads, he played a key role in developing the tablets and mobile devices that became worldwide standards — in many cases, crushing already established competition.
Outside of Apple, Jobs acquired Pixar from Lucasfilm in 1986. The animation studio behind hits such as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo" was purchased by the Walt Disney Company for $7.4 billion. The sale made Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney.
Now Apple looks to a future without the man who helped found the company over three decades ago and oversaw its remarkable turnaround from a company with a sliver of a marketshare to the most valuable public company in the world.
It also means that the ornery, famously exacting tech icon may not take the stage when Apple premieres the hotly anticipated iPhone 5 this fall.
Here's the full text of Jobs' resignation letter:
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
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.
Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.