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Daily Debrief: Jobs steps aside. Now what?Apple co-founder Steve Jobs says he's going on leave until June to take care of lingering health problems. CNET News' Tom Krazit and Charles Cooper examine the immediate and longer-term impact on the company.
>> A late Wednesday bombshell out of Steve Jobs: he's stepping aside. For how long? Nobody really knows. Welcome to the CNET News Daily Debrief. I'm Charlie Cooper here with my colleague, CNET News's Tom Krazit. Tom, we don't know much, but the missive put out by Jobs, this is in connection with the hormone imbalance that he announced earlier this January. What could we make of this very, very brief announcement? >> Well, in the e-mail, which was distributed to employees, but made available to the media by Apple, Jobs said that his health problems have grown more complex. And I don't know exactly what that means, but it means worse than they were the last time I talked about them. So, you know, he's gonna be stepping aside for--until the end of June, actually, they did--they did set a timeframe for his leave of absence. And the day to day operations of the company will be in the hands of Tim Cook, who is currently Apple's C--Chief Operating Office, and who has run the company in the past when Jobs received surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004. >> So let's talk about that. In '04 Jobs did leave the company for a period of time, and Cook stepped in. How did the company function in Jobs' absence? >> It was a short period of time. It was only, you know, about a month to 6 weeks, where, you know, Jobs was completely out of the loop. He was back to part time work within about 6 weeks or the end of September, and back full time shortly thereafter. So, it wasn't, you know, it wasn't as much of as it was a blip, certainly, and I'm sure it had impacts inside of Apple, but there were no external signs that the company had really missed a beat or anything like that. >> In comparing the two companies in '04 and '08, if Jobs were to pick a time to leave, because of a medical condition, this might be the best time. ^M00:01:49 >> Yeah, it's not the worst time in the world. I mean, you look at Apple right now and they've got--the Mac is holding it's own in a rough PC market, the iPhone is still, you know, the phone that the mobile industry is worried about, and the iPod is the iPod. I mean, it hasn't lost--it hasn't gone below a 70 percent market share in years. So you look at all those businesses and the way they are performing and you realize they've got a profit engine that can take them through the next 6 months, even if they don't come out with anything new. >> And the obvious question, even though nobody is talking about this, worse case analysis if Jobs does need to finally step aside permanently. Apple has never articulated a succession plan, but you have to assume that inside the company they've talked about this, they've brainstormed contingencies. What's the most probable scenario? ^M00:02:39 >> Well, I think Tim cook is gonna be the man for the foreseeable future. And that's obviously gonna be until the end of June, and if Jobs decides in June that he can not continue, then I think he's gonna be the guy until they figure out exactly what they want to do next. I don't see Apple as a company that can be run from an--by an outsider. And certainly an outsider is not gonna replace Steve Jobs who is as much a legend in this town as anybody. So, you know, you look at the roster of people they have, and you sort of start to see people jockeying for position. I think, and, you know, I think in many ways the next 6 months will be interesting to watch that as Apple executives realizes that hey, you know, this is a chance of a lifetime sitting in front of me here, and you know, it's--it's--it's perhaps a bit ghoulish to talk about it, but you know that crossed the mind of more than one Apple executive today. Nobody wants to step into the role under those circumstances. But when they call your number they have to be ready and, you know, I think we're gonna see what happens over the next 6 months with that roster of Apple executives. >> Huge shoes to fill. >> Impossible shoes to fill. Steve Jobs cannot be replaced. You just can't, you know. He's a person and a figure that, you know, no one could ever hope to duplicate. You know, the best you can hope for is that you continue to keep the company rolling the way it has been the last 3 or 4 years, and that you've learned something from his design expertise. But no, no one will ever replace Steve Jobs. >> Thanks. On behalf of the CNET News Daily Debrief, I'm Charlie Cooper. ^M00:04:08