Apple has announced today that Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple effective immediately, replaced by COO Tim Cook, who's been serving as interim CEO recently. Jobs isn't completely out of the picture, though - he's staying with the company as Chairman of the Board. This all comes at a time when rumors were swirling that a proper succession plan might be coming together. Clearly, there's no such thing as a good time for Jobs to leave the company that he brought to superstardom, but by all appearances, Cupertino isn't being caught flat-footed.

We're hearing from sources that Jobs will continue to have an active strategic role in the company, just as he has through Cook's position as fill-in CEO most of this year. Notably, the Wall Street Journal‘s Yukari Iwatani Kane — who has an established track record of inside information at Apple — is hearing the same thing. By all appearances, that's a good sign for Jobs' health and well-being.

Here's the letter from Jobs "to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community" distributed over the newswires this evening:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

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, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

Source: Apple