The resignation of Apple Inc.’s chief executive Steve Jobs marks the end of an era, but his departure is not likely to make an immediate impact on the company and its successful line of products, analysts say.
Jobs, 56, submitted his resignation to the Apple board of directors on Wednesday and recommended they name Tim Cook as his successor. In a letter announcing his resignation, Jobs asked to remain chairman of the board and an Apple employee.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know,” Jobs wrote. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”
“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,” Jobs said in the letter.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg called Jobs’ resignation “the end of an era in many ways,” but said it would not shake up the company because Jobs has spent more than a decade building his management team and preparing the board for this transition.
“At the end of the day there’s much more to Apple than any one individual,” Gartenberg said. “It’s likely to be business as usual in Cupertino tomorrow.”
As the chairman of the board, Jobs will continue to shape Apple products for years to come, Gartenberg said. And consumers will probably not even notice his absence as chief executive, he said.
“Consumers don’t buy products because of Steve Jobs,” Gartenberg said. “They buy products because it’s Apple and those products meet their needs.”
Forrester analyst Charles Golvin said the impact on Apple may not be noticeable for a few years because the company’s upcoming products, including the new iPhone 5, have likely already been developed. And Jobs will likely have a continued hands-on role in shaping future Apple products, Golvin said.
“He has a passion for these products and it’s hard for me to imagine as chairman — unless his health prevents it — that he won’t be peripherally involved in key decisions,” he said.
Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported that Jobs continues to be active at Apple and closely involved in the company’s product strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.
But in a few years, “we will see the real Apple without Steve Jobs’ influence,” Golvin said. Then, the question will be how the company’s top executives collaborate without a single visionary making the ultimate decision if there is conflict or debate, he said.
“Is that going to be a successful model? Can they still have a singular vision and philosophy that will lead to continued great products?” Golvin asked.
Cook has taken over the helm of Apple several times while Jobs was on medical leave, and the company continued to succeed under his leadership, analysts said. In 2004, Jobs underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. In 2009, he underwent a liver transplant.
Cook is considered a skilled manager who can operate the company efficiently, Golvin said. But he does not have a background in product development and design and is not viewed as someone with great product vision.
“He’s not known to have that same set of skills as Steve Jobs,” Colvin said, “but nobody does.”