Apple Computer CEO Gil Amelio and his technology VP Ellen Hancock have both resigned - and there are already rumours that Steve Jobs may return to head the company he co-founded.
Amelio apparently departed in advance of the announcement of a fiscal third quarter loss estimated to be around $US70m. Hancock, one of his principal recruitments, was always likely to go if Amelio went.
Another influence on Amelio's departure was the sharp drop in the value of Apple stock, which hit about $13.60 before bouncing back a little this week. The share price has been widely described as a 12-year low, but this ignores the effect of a 2-1 stock split in 1985.
Chief financial officer Fred Anderson is standing in until a new CEO is found, and an Apple press release says Jobs, who returned as an advisor with Apple's purchase of Next last year, will have an "expanded role" in the company.
Although a replacement CEO will be sought by executive search committee headed by board vice-chairman A.C. "Mike" Markkula, The MacOS Rumours Website says there have already been hints that Anderson and Jobs could share the running fo the company, with Anderson attending to business and Jobs filling the figurehead role that many in the industry felt was beyond Amelio.
Ironically, Apple under Amelio has performed well in some important sectors in the past 12 months - most notably in the notebook market, where it appeared to have been almost extinguished a year ago. The PowerBook 3400 offers CPU speeds up to 240MHz, and tobacco giant Philip Morris this week confirmed the purchase of 2200 PowerBook 3400/180 machines.
Current Apple projects, including the MacOS 8 and Rhapsody system software releases are not expected to be affected by the resignations.