There was Henry Ford, and then there was Steve Jobs. The only way Jobs could have been more closely associated with the company he founded and led would have been for him and co-founder Steve Wozniak to have named the company Jobs instead of Apple.
And now Apple must find a way to retain its sheen of technological and design innovation without Jobs, who resigned Aug. 24 as CEO.
Apple announced that Jobs submitted his resignation to Apple's board of directors, and that the board has named Tim Cook as the new CEO. Cook had previously been Apple's COO.
"Steve's extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company," said board chairman Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech, in the Apple announcement.
The company's announcement offers no explanation for Jobs' resignation. Jobs has been suffering from ill health for several years. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, had a liver transplant in 2009 and began an extended medical leave of absence early this year.
Jobs was more than a CEO—he was the driving creative force first at Apple, then at Pixar and then at Apple again. When a major product was launched—the Mac, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad—you felt that the man who unveiled it was also the one in the driver's seat during that product's conception and execution.
This close identification between company and leader always had its dangers, but what else was Apple—and Jobs—supposed to do? They were presented as one, and that presentation worked.
It is likely that Cook will not attempt to build a high profile. The emphasis will be on the products alone as, sadly, Apple loses its recognizable human face. Jobs had his detractors, but you can be sure they will miss him now that he is gone as CEO.