What Jobs's exit means for Apple

The shocking yet not entirely surprising news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will sit out the next six months for health reasons gave the technology world a significant jolt. Mr. Jobs will retain his title, but Apple's long-time Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will take over day-to-day activity during the absence.

Last week's Macworld expo gave fans and industry watchers an early glimpse of an Apple without Jobs. The iconic CEO remained mostly hidden, offering the spotlight to Apple's other top talent. But investors didn't like the new direction. Apple's stock has slid steadily since Macworld from $94 to yesterday's $85. Jobs's leave of absence, which leaked after markets closed Wednesday, pushed the stock to $79 in late trading.

Here's what Apple watchers are saying:

Robert ScobleScobleizer
"It’s too late to sell your Apple stock. If you sold it [Wednesday], you are a genius. But [Thursday]? You’ll be the biggest loser. Why? Apple has the best team, the best distribution, the best supply chain, the best management in the business. Everyone, from Palm to Microsoft to Google, wants to be like Apple. Hint: They can’t."

John Carney – Clusterstock
"Apple Shareholders Suits Coming In 10, 9, 8, 7.... When rumors began to circulate about Jobs's health following news that he wouldn’t appear at the Macworld Expo last week, Jobs issued a statement that sent the stock higher. He also promised that he would have no more to say about his health, implying that his condition was stable enough that it would not need to be addressed again. Now we know that this was very probably untrue."

Dan Frommer – Silicon Alley Insider
"Apple is fine for now. The company has a superb product lineup that its rivals can only lust after. Apple also has a deep, talented executive bench ... but Apple will gradually lose its lead – especially if it doesn't quickly put in place a plan to move forward without Steve."

MG Siegler – Venture Beat
"It’s also worth noting that Apple’s quarterly earnings call is exactly one week from today. That should be interesting to say the least. It’s been said that no chief executive is as important to a company’s stock price as Jobs is to Apple’s, and that seems to have been proven today."

Gene MunsterPiper Jaffray
"We believe that during Jobs's absence, Apple's sales will be unaffected," Mr. Munster wrote, according to Apple Insider. "More importantly, we believe the pace of innovation will remain solid, driven by key product-minded executives. From an operational perspective, we expect [chief operating officer Tim] Cook to maintain the same standard of excellence that he demands as COO."

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