Amidst the pathos and shock of Steve Jobs' resignation from his post as Apple's CEO (while still retaining his role as chairman of the board), one line from Steve's resignation letter should be ringing exceptionally loudly in the ears of all Apple fans, not to mention Wall Street's decision makers: "As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple."
The most important words in that sentence: succession plan. Apple's corporate leadership has been repeatedly chastised by investors and pundits for the lack of a publicly announced succession structure, given the precarious state of the CEO's health and the critical role of leadership in guiding the company's groundbreaking products.
While any competent observer of Apple's operations would have confidently stated that yes, there was a plan (albeit a closely held one, to prevent executive defections and talent raids by other Silicon Valley giants with deep pockets), and yes, Tim Cook was the heir apparent, still the caviling and caterwauling continued.
Now, given the circumstances, we know that Apple's plan was what most of us assumed it would be: the operations chief who repeatedly stepped into the interim CEO role (in 2004, 2009 and 2011) has been promoted to the top job, and is now responsible for delivering the same exceptional results that the company's founder and chief visionary brought forth over the past decades.
We know that Tim Cook has Apple's best interests (and the interests of its customers) at heart, and we know he has the advantage of many years of service within the inner circle of Apple's leadership. We wish him all good luck & wisdom as he moves into his new role.
Check back with TUAW tomorrow morning for our profile of Cook, including first-hand impressions from former Apple employees.