20110824 stevejobs2
Apple CEO Steve Jobs waves to the crowd after speaking during an Apple Special event to unveil the new iPad 2 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 2, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. - 

Steve Jobs stepped down Wednesday as chief executive of Apple.

His resignation was confirmed by the company's board of directors in a press release. Tim Cook, previously Apple's chief operating officer, will step in as the company's new CEO.

"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," Jobs said in a public Letter to the board. "That day has come."

Jobs was elected Chairman of the Board after the announcement.

A long time coming?
In January, Jobs announced that he would take a medical leave of absence from Apple to focus on his health. He handed over the day-to-day operations to Cook, but said he would continue as CEO and be involved in "major strategic decisions."

True to his word, Jobs continued to be present for Apple's major product announcements since then, including the high-profile release of the iPad 2 and the company's iCloud launch.

Jobs has been publicly struggling with health issues for years, including recovering from a bout with pancreatic cancer. In July 2009 he took a six-month medical leave of absence for a liver transplant.

View an illustrated timeline of Apple's notable product releases and executive changes.

The future of Apple without Jobs
Some industry analysts have been considered what might come of Apple without Jobs at the helm. In an interview with the Marketplace Morning Report in January, Washington Post technology writer Cecilia Kang noted that Cook's lack of name recognition could be an issue for such a high-profile company.

"He's done a really great job in the past of taking over when Steve left for previous medical leaves. But people don't know his name. If you think of Apple do you ever think of Tim Cook?" she said.

Tim Cook takes over
Cook steps into the CEO role at Apple after 13 years at the company, during which time he was responsible for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, including "end-to-end management of Apple's supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries," the company said in its announcement.

Follow Matt Berger at @byMattBerger