Steve Jobs, chief executive officer of Apple, has stepped down from his role at the helm of the iPad 2 and iPhone maker. He is to be replaced by chief operating officer, Tim Cook.
The 55-year-old is a controversial figure, as much worshipped as something of a messiah by Apple fanbois as he is reviled by naysayers, who accuse him of being a control freak.
He returned in 1997 to the helm of the enterprise he helped found in a California garage, having been ousted in 1985. Jobs is credited with much of the success of Apple's iPod and iTunes store, which recently recently - albeit briefly - made it the largest company in the world.
Jobs has been on medical leave since 17th January due to an undisclosed illness, leading to speculation over the company's future. He has, however, been heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the company, making a public appearance to deliver the keynote at Apple's WWDC conference in June.
He has survived an earlier serious illness after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in mid-2004.
The Cupertino company announced in a statement that Jobs was to step down from his role as chief exec, but continue as chairman of the company.
In his resignation letter, Jobs stated:
"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.
Recommending Cook as his successor, he added: "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."
The announcement prompted Apple's a five per cent fall in Apple's share price in after-hours trading, causing the company to shed around $18.6 billion of its value.