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As Apple's Steve Jobs Steps Down, Tim Cook Steps Up

The news last night that Apple Inc. co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs is giving up his post at CEO naturally leads to this question:

Just who is Tim Cook, the Apple chief operating officer who has been tapped to take over as CEO?

CNET News writes that Cook, 50, "already has extensive experience running the company" after seven years as the chief operating officer. He joined Apple in 1998 after top jobs at Compaq and IBM, and CNET says that Cook:

"Is credited with completely restructuring Apple's manufacturing operations, insisting that Apple shut down its overseas factories and farm out the work to third-party manufacturers. As a result, the company reduced inventory and improved margins on its entire product lineup."

The Wall Street Journal writes that Cook "isn't the showman that Mr. Jobs is, but people who know him call him an 'operational genius' who was responsible for crafting Apple's current supply-chain system and helping to transform the company into one of the most efficient electronics manufacturers today." And it adds that Cook has been "handed the reins of the company three times — once in 2004 when Mr. Jobs was recuperating from pancreatic cancer surgery, once in early 2009 when he took a six-month medical leave of absence for a liver transplant and again in early 2011 for another unexplained medical leave."

On Morning Edition, NPR's Laura Sydell noted that that in 2009 — when Cook was in charge for must of the time, "the company did incredibly well. ... It had two stellar quarters."

What's more, reports the San Jose Mercury News, "analysts say Jobs, who stepped away in January from day-to-day management to take his third medical leave in a decade, assembled a strong management team to execute the Cupertino company's strategy. 'That magic won't go away overnight,' said Richard Doherty with the Envisioneering Group. The company's products 'not only have his fingerprints on them, they have his DNA.' "

Jobs, 56, will be staying on as Apple's chairman. As reports, his decision to give up the CEO position, "appears to be the result of an unspecified medical condition for which he took an indefinite leave from his post in January. ... In a letter addressed to Apple's board and the 'Apple community,' Jobs said he '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.' "

Jobs' letter is posted here.

Apple's stock fell after the news about Jobs was released. Bloomberg News writes that "the shares fell as much as 6.9 percent to the equivalent of $349.91 in German trading today. They lost as much as 7 percent in extended trading in the U.S. yesterday after the announcement."

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