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Apple Talk: Steve Jobs resigns - what next for Apple?

You can't replace the irreplaceable...

Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple CEO but this is a moment the company has long prepared for, says silicon.com's Apple watcher Seb Janaceck.

So it has happened: Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple's CEO, and Apple COO Tim Cook has taken over.

Investors have long clamoured for Apple to reveal its succession plan, but this demand has always puzzled me. It's as if they expected Apple to reveal a device that could create a dozen Steve Jobs simulacrums. You can't replace the irreplaceable.

Tim Cook

Steve Jobs' replacement, Tim Cook, is backed by a strong management teamPhoto: Apple

Really, the future has been clear for a long time. It was obvious Tim Cook was going to take over as CEO. The Apple succession plan has been in place and operational for years. After all, the last medical leave Jobs announced in January was the third in five years.

Cook has taken over the reins in that time and the company hasn't exactly suffered. Earlier this month Apple overtook Exxon Mobil as the world's most valued company. Cook is also backed by a strong management team.

Jobs' move to chairman, in my view, only formalises the status quo of the last few years. If it were not for the concerns that his decision is health-related then it would be a move worth celebrating.

It is in some ways a hopeful step. Much of the commentary on the web and social networks seems to be in the form of eulogies.

But assuming this move is about his health not improving to the point where he could return as CEO full time, the company could still have its most hands-on chairman.

In the short to medium term this should have little detrimental effect on the company's plans and operations. The longer term is far more difficult to divine, but the company has long put plans in place to mitigate the importance of a single figurehead at Apple.

The company has for years invested in its management team. Jobs even developed an internal Apple University to develop case studies on how the company had successfully executed strategies. It has long been preparing for the time when Jobs handed over the CEO reins.

Apple's risk management strategy in the last few years has been masterful. In the face of doubt and investor panic the company has executed its succession strategy, it has reported record-breaking quarter after record-breaking quarter and it has released products that are not only successful but are changing the technical and cultural landscape around the world.

Steve Jobs' last real act as Apple CEO was to outline the ambitious iCloud vision. It is yet to launch but will be likely to sustain the company for the next decade. Likewise, the iPhone but especially the iPad are products in their infancy.

The company now enters a stage where it has to successfully execute the vision and in Tim Cook Apple has a CEO capable of doing that. If the status quo is to be maintained, Jobs may remain as Apple's public figurehead, announcing new products on stage alongside fellow Apple executives.

Thanks for the Mac and the memories, Steve. I'm sure there are plenty more to come.

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