Apple Inc. revealed the news late Wednesday, barely a month after Jobs stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to Tim Cook, Apple’s former chief operating officer. Jobs said at the time that “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 had been battling a form of pancreatic cancer since 2003, and had a liver transplant in 2009. Though he remained closely involved with the company, his illness forced him to step back from his duties periodically over the past few years.
Jobs, who co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976, was frequently heralded as a visionary in Silicon Valley because of his knack for making technology, regardless of how complex, seem stylish and easy to use. With his preference for simplicity and elegant design, Apple unveiled a string of hit devices beginning with the release of the iPod in 2001—a sleek MP3 player that effectively transformed Apple from a niche computer-maker into a consumer electronics giant almost overnight.
The feat was repeated in 2007 when Jobs, wearing his signature blue jeans and black mock turtle neck, took the wraps of the iPhone at one of the company’s product events and launched Apple into a brand new industry, changing most people’s perceptions of what cellphone could do in the process. Most recently, Apple unveiled its tablet computer the iPad, which has proven to be yet another runaway hit, spawning dozens of imitators. As a result, Apple is now considered the world’s second-most valuable company after Exxon Mobil Corp.
Speculation about Jobs’ health had been rampant in recent years, with investors wondering whether the company could continue its reign at the top with Jobs out of the picture. While the consensus among analysts seems to be that Apple has a strong team in place under Cook, who delivered the keynote address earlier this week when Apple unveiled the latest iteration of the iPhone, there’s bound to be lingering fears that Apple’s capacity to know what consumers want before they do may have died along with Jobs.
“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” Apple said in a statement Wednesday night. “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”