The day has finally come: Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO of Apple. Tim Cook, the company's now-former COO, will replace Jobs as CEO of Apple.
While Jobs hopes to remain the company's chairman of the board, director and employee, this announcement clearly draws a heaping amount of attention, whether you're an industry watcher, a fan (or non-fan) of Apple's products or a stockholder in the company.
In the interest of transparency, I'll say that I'm not a big user or fan of Apple products myself. I own a first-generation iPod Shuffle and a fifth-generation iPod, but both products are mostly collectors of dust somewhere in my room. When it came time to renew my mobile plan earlier this year, I chose an Android phone over an iPhone.
Though I find many of Apple's products to be sleek and appealing, I often find myself looking at those gadgets as I would a forbidden fruit -- an alluring apple (if you will) that would transform me into a snooty hipster wannabe, should I take a bite of its sweet flesh.
So I write this post with no emotional hang-ups or lumps in my throat. Instead, I write this simply as a genuine admirer of what Jobs has done for the world of technology and beyond. He spearheaded a brand that grew to mean something to consumers, whether they became fans of it or not.
All that said, I can't help but to think of Jobs as the tech world's answer to Michael Jordan. The parallels are obvious enough: both men were giants in their respective realms, both men took "breaks" from those realms and both eventually returned to reclaim glory.
Jobs leaving his CEO post this week is like Jordan retiring for the second time in 1999, coming off a storybook finish that capped an illustrious career. He was retiring at the peak of his powers, at the top of his game.
Similarly, Jobs is leaving his leadership role at Apple at a time when the company is thriving, maybe even at or near its peak. But maintaining such a lofty position in the tech world isn't an easy feat. Take the mobile market, for example: Google's Android phones are gobbling up market share in the U.S. and around the world, with Gartner Inc. forecasting that Android will claim nearly half of the world's smartphones by the end of 2012. Android's apps are also set to get a boost by being made available on RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. This isn't even to mention Google's recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility.
Nevertheless, though Jobs' departure will draw a lot of ink, the net effect for Apple as a business should be close to zero. Investors seem to know this: Halfway through the day after Jobs' announcement, Apple's stock is down about 1.05 percent, while Nasdaq is down 1.49 percent. Though Jobs was a masterful salesman, Apple's products should have enough appeal of their own to keep the company humming along.
Especially given Jobs' delicate health, it makes complete sense that he would step aside after bringing Apple so far, leaving the defense of the company's kingdom to others. He can go out on top, the way Jordan did in 1999 (before his less-than-memorable comeback in 2001), and that's a good thing to see.