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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There are risks as well as opportunities ahead for George Osborne

The Chancellor is in a tight spot, but expect his political wiles to be on full display, says Spencer Thompson.

The most significant fiscal event of this parliament will take place in late November, when the Chancellor presents the spending review setting out his plans for funding government departments over the next four years. This week, across Whitehall and up and down the country, ministers, lobbyists, advocacy groups and town halls are busily finalising their pitches ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions to the review

It is difficult to overstate the challenge faced by the Chancellor. Under his current spending forecast and planned protections for the NHS, schools, defence and international aid spending, other areas of government will need to be cut by 16.4 per cent in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. Focusing on services spending outside of protected areas, the cumulative cut will reach 26.5 per cent. Despite this, the Chancellor nonetheless has significant room for manoeuvre.

Firstly, under plans unveiled at the budget, the government intends to expand capital investment significantly in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Over the last parliament capital spending was cut by around a quarter, but between now and 2019-20 it will grow by almost 20 per cent. How this growth in spending should be distributed across departments and between investment projects should be at the heart of the spending review.

In a paper published on Monday, we highlighted three urgent priorities for any additional capital spending: re-balancing transport investment away from London and the greater South East towards the North of England, a £2bn per year boost in public spending on housebuilding, and £1bn of extra investment per year in energy efficiency improvements for fuel-poor households.

Secondly, despite the tough fiscal environment, the Chancellor has the scope to fund a range of areas of policy in dire need of extra resources. These include social care, where rising costs at a time of falling resources are set to generate a severe funding squeeze for local government, 16-19 education, where many 6th-form and FE colleges are at risk of great financial difficulty, and funding a guaranteed paid job for young people in long-term unemployment. Our paper suggests a range of options for how to put these and other areas of policy on a sustainable funding footing.

There is a political angle to this as well. The Conservatives are keen to be seen as a party representing all working people, as shown by the "blue-collar Conservatism" agenda. In addition, the spending review offers the Conservative party the opportunity to return to ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ as a going concern.  If they are truly serious about being seen in this light, this should be reflected in a social investment agenda pursued through the spending review that promotes employment and secures a future for public services outside the NHS and schools.

This will come at a cost, however. In our paper, we show how the Chancellor could fund our package of proposed policies without increasing the pain on other areas of government, while remaining consistent with the government’s fiscal rules that require him to reach a surplus on overall government borrowing by 2019-20. We do not agree that the Government needs to reach a surplus in that year. But given this target wont be scrapped ahead of the spending review, we suggest that he should target a slightly lower surplus in 2019/20 of £7bn, with the deficit the year before being £2bn higher. In addition, we propose several revenue-raising measures in line with recent government tax policy that together would unlock an additional £5bn of resource for government departments.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough settlement for government departments and for public services. But the Chancellor does have a range of options open as he plans the upcoming spending review. Expect his reputation as a highly political Chancellor to be on full display.

Spencer Thompson is economic analyst at IPPR