Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

The charismatic figure, credited with turning around the fortunes of the technology giant, steps dow

Steve Jobs, the man credited with turning Apple into one of the most industry-shaping companies around, has resigned from his position as chief executive officer.

The 55 year old, who co-founded the technology giant from a garage, has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since January. He previously survived pancreatic cancer. In his resignation letter, Jobs said:

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.

In a statement, Apple said that Tim Cook, who has been running things in Jobs' absence, will take over as chief executive, while Jobs will move to the newly-created role of chairman.

The decision has sent shockwaves through the business world, with shares in Apple dropping by at least 5 per cent in overnight trading.

Perhaps more than any other current corporate leader, Jobs is closely identified with the success of his company. Seen as a visionary, Jobs' many admirers say that his talent lies in predicting what consumers want before they know they want it.

He ran Apple twice. The first time was from its creation in 1976 until he was ousted in 1985, and the second was 20 years later when he returned to rescue the floundering company. He successfully turned Apple round, releasing a series of iconic products. The iPod has reshaped the music industry, while the iPhone changed expectations of what a mobile phone should do.

Earlier this month, Apple briefly became the world's most valuable company, overtaking the oil giant Exxon Mobil, worth over $350bn. It didn't last long, but is astonishing given that Apple sells things that people want, rather than necessities like oil.

Over at the Telegraph, Shane Richmond suggests that it is important not to overstate the impact of Jobs' departure:

Apple's innovations over the last decade are the result of the company's structure: a small team at the top, focusing on a tightly-controlled number of products. Ideas can come from anywhere but those top executives spend a lot of time deciding what not to work on, to ensure that the company's resources aren't spread too thinly. Though Jobs played a key role in developing those working practices, the ideas are embedded deep within the company by this point. Apple's competitors might be hoping that the company's fortunes will change for the worse without Jobs but I wouldn't bet on it.

Whether Apple continues to hit the mark remains to be seen, but the technology industry has lost one of its most charismatic figures.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Who will win in Stoke-on-Trent?

Labour are the favourites, but they could fall victim to a shock in the Midlands constituency.  

The resignation of Tristram Hunt as MP for Stoke-on-Central has triggered a by-election in the safe Labour seat of Stoke on Trent Central. That had Westminster speculating about the possibility of a victory for Ukip, which only intensified once Paul Nuttall, the party’s leader, was installed as the candidate.

If Nuttall’s message that the Labour Party has lost touch with its small-town and post-industrial heartlands is going to pay dividends at the ballot box, there can hardly be a better set of circumstances than this: the sitting MP has quit to take up a well-paid job in London, and although  the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs voted to block Brexit, the well-advertised divisions in that party over the vote should help Ukip.

But Labour started with a solid lead – it is always more useful to talk about percentages, not raw vote totals – of 16 points in 2015, with the two parties of the right effectively tied in second and third place. Just 33 votes separated Ukip in second from the third-placed Conservatives.

There was a possible – but narrow – path to victory for Ukip that involved swallowing up the Conservative vote, while Labour shed votes in three directions: to the Liberal Democrats, to Ukip, and to abstention.

But as I wrote at the start of the contest, Ukip were, in my view, overwritten in their chances of winning the seat. We talk a lot about Labour’s problem appealing to “aspirational” voters in Westminster, but less covered, and equally important, is Ukip’s aspiration problem.

For some people, a vote for Ukip is effectively a declaration that you live in a dump. You can have an interesting debate about whether it was particularly sympathetic of Ken Clarke to brand that party’s voters as “elderly male people who have had disappointing lives”, but that view is not just confined to pro-European Conservatives. A great number of people, in Stoke and elsewhere, who are sympathetic to Ukip’s positions on immigration, international development and the European Union also think that voting Ukip is for losers.

That always made making inroads into the Conservative vote harder than it looks. At the risk of looking very, very foolish in six days time, I found it difficult to imagine why Tory voters in Hanley would take the risk of voting Ukip. As I wrote when Nuttall announced his candidacy, the Conservatives were, in my view, a bigger threat to Labour than Ukip.

Under Theresa May, almost every move the party has made has been designed around making inroads into the Ukip vote and that part of the Labour vote that is sympathetic to Ukip. If the polls are to be believed, she’s succeeding nationally, though even on current polling, the Conservatives wouldn’t have enough to take Stoke on Trent Central.

Now Theresa May has made a visit to the constituency. Well, seeing as the government has a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, it’s not as if the Prime Minister needs to find time to visit the seat, particularly when there is another, easier battle down the road in the shape of the West Midlands mayoral election.

But one thing is certain: the Conservatives wouldn’t be sending May down if they thought that they were going to do worse than they did in 2015.

Parties can be wrong of course. The Conservatives knew that they had found a vulnerable spot in the last election as far as a Labour deal with the SNP was concerned. They thought that vulnerable spot was worth 15 to 20 seats. They gained 27 from the Liberal Democrats and a further eight from Labour.  Labour knew they would underperform public expectations and thought they’d end up with around 260 to 280 seats. They ended up with 232.

Nevertheless, Theresa May wouldn’t be coming down to Stoke if CCHQ thought that four days later, her party was going to finish fourth. And if the Conservatives don’t collapse, anyone betting on Ukip is liable to lose their shirt. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.