SiliconFilter

Steve Jobs Steps Down as Apple’s CEO – Succeeded by Tim Cook

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Steve Jobs just resigned as CEO of Apple. According to Apple, he will be succeeded by Apple’s current Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook who has long been considered his logical successor. Jobs will become the Chairman of the Board and remain an Apple employee.

Here is his letter to the Apple board:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

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.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

Given that Jobs notes that he felt that he “could no longer meet [his] duties,” we will likely see plenty of speculation about his health in the next few days. Jobs is a pancreatic cancer survivor, but given that he has been on medical leave for a while now, today’s announcement will surely rekindle the speculation about his current health.

Job’s letter is also the first indication that Apple indeed had a succession plan in place for a while now and that Cook was indeed Jobs’ designated successor.



10:56 pm


What’s Missing From Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud is iTunes in the Cloud

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When Apple announced its iCloud service yesterday, the whole presentation led up to the reveal of iTunes in the Cloud, the most anticipated part of the service. As Apple went through its explanation of the service, though, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed. iTunes in the Cloud is missing a central part of what I was expecting from this service: access to my iTunes library in the Cloud. All the basic pieces are there: Apple knows what music I have on my machine (assuming I pay for iTunes Match once it’s released) and can sync that data to my other Apple devices – but you can’t stream your music from a web-based iTunes interface.

(more…)



3:33 pm


Why is Apple Trying to Crush All the Rumors Around its WWDC Keynote?

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In what is an unprecedented move for Apple, the company this morning announced what it plans to announce during its keynote at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) next week. Typically, these events are shrouded in mystery and the days ahead of the conference are ripe with rumors and speculations as to what will be announced and who will announce it. Not so this year. Apple didn’t just announce the obvious – that we will see a preview of iOS5 and OS X Lion, but also that it will indeed launch a new suite of cloud-based services under the rumored iCloud name. While the Apple Kremlinologists will continue to speculate whether the fact that  Apple announced that its “CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off” the event means that Steve Jobs is coming back from his medical leave or not, the fact that Apple pre-announced Jobs’ presence at the event is also unprecedented.

Setting Expectations

Apple today confirmed that Steve Jobs will keynote the WWDC keynote

So why did Apple announce all of this? My personal feeling is that it’s all about setting expectations. Those who don’t follow tech news closely are likely still expecting to see the iPhone 5 (as the WWDC has traditionally been where Apple announced its newest generation of phones). Today’s announcement makes it clear (by omitting any reference to hardware in general), that we won’t be seeing a new iPhone at WWDC. In the past, speculations around new devices often got so far out of hand that the actual product had to be a letdown (what? no solar-powered iPhone?). Apple has been getting better at setting expectations lower through planned leaks, but it looks like the company is now also ready to be a bit more open about its plans for the immediate future.

Now that Amazon and Google are offering music lockers, it’s also likely that Apple wants to keep the buzz around its iCloud offering going for another week (Amazon stole some of that with its $0.99 Lady Gaga promotion). Apple’s offering will likely be more comprehensive than this, but a music locker will likely be the key feature of its new iCloud service.

Or: Setting up a Bigger Surprise?

On the other hand, this is still Apple. Maybe this press release is just misdirection and the company does have “one more thing” ready to go at WWDC (iPhone 4S? new Apple TV with apps?).

There are, of course, still lots of questions about what iCloud is really about (will it be integrated with iWork, for example?), what’s in iOS 5 and what unannounced features Lion still has in store for us. At least, however, the speculation will focus on this and not on new hardware.



3:57 pm


Is Apple Getting Too Greedy? Demands 30% Cut of In-App Subscriptions

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After a lot of confusion earlier this year, Apple today finally clarified its rules for in-app subscriptions for magazines, newspapers, video and music. The rules are very straightforward: Publishers can continue to sell digital subscriptions on their own websites and give free access to existing subscribers. Apple will not take a cut from these transactions. Publishers who offer out-of-app subscriptions, though, also have to offer in-app subscriptions and the price has to be the same or lower than for subscriptions processed outside of the app. Apple will take a 30% cut from these in-app transactions.

This is a rather hefty fee for processing a transaction given that most credit card processors just charge around 2.5% and a small transaction fee (generally around $0.25). It’s also worth noting that it looks as if Apple will take this same cut whenever a subscriber renews a subscription, though this isn’t 100% clear yet. This new subscription plan will become mandatory starting June 30.

Steve Jobs: “Our Philosophy is Simple”

Just in case developers think they can just provide a link to their regular web-based subscription service in their apps and circumvent Apple’s system, the rules explicitly state that “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a website, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.”

In the words of Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.” That does sound fair, but in reality, chances are that the majority of new customers for subscription services will come from apps and given that developers aren’t allowed to route around the system, this 30% cut become a major issue for some publishers.

Can Publishers Afford This Without Raising Prices?

You can currently buy an annual subscription to Wired on Amazon for $10 and getting National Geographic for a year costs $15 per year. Will these magazines have to offer the same prices for the app-based versions of their products? (Or do these “promotional” prices not count?) If Hulu has to give Apple $2.40 of every $7.99 subscription it sells, can it still make a profit? Or will Apple’s move force them to raise their prices across the board?

It is, of course, a good thing that Apple is making it easier for consumers to buy subscriptions and helps publishers acquire new subscribers. Having to pay a 30% fee for these services does seem quite steep, though, especially given that Apple now owns the customer and not the publishers.



11:37 am


Reactions to Steve Jobs’ New Medical Leave of Absence

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Earlier this morning, Apple unexpectedly announced that the company’s iconic co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs would take a medical leave of absence. In an email to Apple employees, Jobs said that “At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.”

Neither Apple nor Jobs provided more details about this decision, but as the Internet exploded with news reports about Jobs’ decision, most reporters noted that today’s announcement was likely related to Jobs’ 2009 liver transplant and his earlier leave of absence and surgery in 2004. Both of his earlier leaves were due to the pancreatic cancer his doctors discovered in 2004. Just like during his last leave, Apple’s COO Tim Cook will lead the company’s day-to-day operations.

Privacy

In his email, Jobs asks for privacy, a topic of heated discussions during his last leave, as his health is – according to many – closely linked to Apple’s performance. All Things D’s Kara Swisher, however, argues that Jobs deserves his privacy this time, “because the public Steve Jobs has given his large audience more than enough since he got back the last time he was sick.” It remains to be seen if Apple’s fans and stockholders will think the same, however.

Apple Stock

aapl stock in frankfurt

Given Jobs’ central role at Apple, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the company’s stock price quickly suffered after the news broke. In Frankfurt, the stock immediately dropped 7% from the previous day and never recovered. Undoubtedly, Apple’s announcement was timed to coincide with Martin Luther King Day, a day where the U.S. markets are closed. This should give Apple investors a chance to cool off before the markets open again on Tuesday.

The timing of today’s announcement also comes just one day before Apple is scheduled to reveal its quarterly earnings report (which most pundits expect to beat expectations) and before the company will celebrate the 10 billionth download from its app store. All of this should help ease the pressure on Apple’s stock and you don’t have to be a cynic to think that Apple considered these facts when it timed today’s announcement.

On GigaOm, Mathew Ingram wonders, however, if the stock can “withstand the absence of Steve Jobs.”

Succession

Another topic that quickly rose to prominence after the news broke was the question of Jobs’ succession. The Wall Street Journal today features a short profile of Tim Cook, calling him the company’s “CEO-in-waiting.” CNET’s Jonathan E. Skillings and Erica Ogg also note that Apple has privately acknowledged that it has a plan of success in place, but that the company refuses to make this plan public, as that would “damage the company’s ability to retain and recruit top executive talent.”

On his ITworld blog, Chris Nerney argues that, “while Jobs focuses on his health, Apple board must focus on its responsibility.” Also on ITworld, Ryan Faas wonders if Apple can “thrive without Steve Jobs at the helm.” His conclusion, after looking at Apple’s performance during Jobs’ last two leaves is that “Apple is [not] going to be slowed down in the least.”

Indeed, the general tenor in the tech world is that Cook would be a capable successor for Jobs and the right choice for filling in for him.



10:28 am