Steve Jobs: Leader of the Apple cult

Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears at Apple's special media event to introduce the second generation iPad in San Francisco. Apple chief executive Jobs emerged from medical leave to unveil a new version of the iPad designed to tighten the company's grip on the booming tablet computer market. The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than the original version released last year and features cameras for photography, movie-making or video chat.

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Apple founder and industry visionary Steve Jobs has announced he's resigning as CEO of the company. The 56-year-old has battled pancreatic cancer in the past, and in a letter to Apple's board, Jobs says he can no longer perform his duties effectively. Apple's had a wildly successful year. Earlier this month it rivaled Exxon as the most valuable public company in the world.

John Moe, host of Marketplace Tech Report joins me now. Good morning, John.

John Moe: Hey, Stacey.

Vanek-Smith: So John, I have to ask this -- is Apple going to be the same company without Steve Jobs?

Moe: It's hard to say. Apple is incredibly secretive, it's kind of like the Kremlin. That's their culture, they're secretive about what they're working on. They're even secretive within the company. Famously, on the day the iPhone launched many years ago, a lot of Apple employees had no idea Apple was even working on a phone. They keep it all pretty locked down.

We know there are a lot of smart, talented people working there, but we don't always know what goes on behind closed doors. But obviously, they've been preparing for this for a long time.

Vanek-Smith: Let's talk -- it has been reported, though, that Jobs hasn't been that hands on recently, though, is that right?

Moe: Yeah, Tim Cook has been running the company since Jobs went on medical leave in January. He's the COO -- the chief operating officer -- and he'll keep running the company. Jobs recommended in a letter that they promote Cook, and the board approved of it.

The resignation letter that Jobs wrote even made reference to a succession plan, which might have been a little bit of a backhanded slap to all the people who were worrying that there wasn't a plan in case Jobs couldn't do the job.

But if Apple is a cult like a lot of people say, Jobs was definitely the charismatic leader. And obviously, what's a cult without a charismatic leader? And he's a founder too. I mean, so imagine Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon without Jeff Bezos. It might work just as well -- it might work even better -- but it can't ever be the same.

Vanek-Smith: Well let's talk a little bit about Jobs' legacy? It's pretty -- let's talk a little bit about that.

Moe: Yeah. Well, I mean, it might ripple out to some other places in the economy, this departure, if things were really rapidly changing at Apple. But if Apple doesn't come up with the next big thing like it seemed to do so often under Jobs -- and that's the unknown -- then things could really dramatically change. I mean, under Jobs, it was huge leaps forward, either inventing new stuff or really radically changing previous design. The iPod, the iPad, the iPhone. Now, if Apple can't do that anymore, that creates huge space in the market. If it can't, the tech landscape and culture could really shift. If it can, it's business as usual.

Vanek-Smith: John Moe hosts Marketplace Tech Report. Thank you John.

Moe: Thanks, Stacey.

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