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Steve Jobs steps down as Apple CEO

Jobs hand top job to Cook.

Sudden news from Apple - Steve Jobs steps down as CEO, and Tim Cook Takes his place.

The news was broken in a short letter over on Apple's website and an even shorter letter from Steve Jobs himself.

Apple’s Board of Directors today announced that Steve Jobs has resigned as Chief Executive Officer, and the Board has named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO. Jobs has been elected Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.

Jobs is praised for his contribution to Apple by Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple's Board:

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company. 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.”

Levinson goes on to sing praises for the inbound CEO Tim Cook saying that Apple's board has "complete confidence" in Cook and that his 13 years at Apple "have been marked by outstanding performance.”

As COO, Cook was previously responsible for all of the company’s worldwide sales and operations, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Here's Steve Jobs' letter in full:

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.

In after hours trading Apple shares are down some 5% or $19 on the news.

No explanation has been given as to why Jobs has stepped down, and frankly none is needed, although I doubt that will stop people speculating.