Next phase starts at world's biggest technology company...
Steve Jobs, the charismatic CEO that led Apple from near bankruptcy to its current position as one of the world's largest companies, has resigned.
"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," Jobs said in a letter to the Apple board, published by the company on Wednesday.
Jobs has been on medical leave since January and has suffered from bouts of ill health which have seen him step down from his role of CEO for several months, including a six-month period in 2009.
While Jobs will no longer head the company, he hasn't severed his involvement with Apple: he'll now take on the position of chairman of the board.
"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," Jobs said.
Apple's COO Tim Cook - who has been heading the company in Jobs' absence - has been appointed his successor.
Cook's duties as COO included responsibility for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, as well as Apple's Mac division. He also "played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace," Apple said.
While Cook was thought by many industry watchers to be...
...Jobs' likely eventual successor, stepping into the shoes of the mercurial ex-CEO will be a tough challenge.
Jobs' work as CEO has defined Apple. John Sculley, who himself was CEO of Apple for around a decade until the early 1990s, recently told silcion.com how Jobs' vision can be seen throughout the hardware, software and design ethos of the company.
"Everything that was significant in Apple when I was there was really defined by Steve Jobs," he said.
Rather than looking to electronic products for the Apple aesthetic, Sculley recalls Jobs seeking to match the quality craftmanship of fine jewellery and the fit and finish of luxury cars.
From the sleek lines of the computer hardware through to the intuitive nature of the software, Sculley said Jobs believed in "controlling the experience end to end, so there would be no compromises".
Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976, overseeing the creation of products including the Apple II and Apple Lisa. After a power struggle with then CEO Sculley, Jobs left the company in 1985.
He later returned to the fold when Apple bought another company he founded, NeXT Computer, in 1996, becoming CEO of Apple once again the next year.
Under his stewardship, Apple launched the iPhone and iPad, while still seeing growth in sales of its traditional Mac computing line. The last quarter with Jobs at the helm was also a gala day for shareholders: it posted record quarterly revenue of $28.6bn and record quarterly net profit of $7.3bn for Q3 this year.