Steve Jobs was already preparing Apple for his departure in 2004

Steve Jobs was already preparing Apple for his departure in 2004


iPhone could have looked a lot different had Steve Jobs had his way.
Long before Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he was already planning his successor.
Photo: Apple

Although he ultimately ran the show at Apple until the middle of 2011, Steve Jobs began thinking about succession plans as early as 2004, when he was just 49 years old, according to a new Fast Company excerpt of the upcoming book Becoming Steve Jobs.

2004 was one year after Jobs had a medical scan which revealed he had a tumor in his pancreas. While it was later revealed to be a rare type of pancreatic tumor which grows slower than usual, at the time Jobs was told that he should expect to live no longer than three to six months. 2004 was, of course, years before Apple unveiled the iPhone and iPad: two of the devices for which Jobs is best remembered.

The book excerpt also reveals that, right up until the very end, Tim Cook was convinced that Steve Jobs had a longer role to play at Apple as chairman.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.


As per the book’s authors, Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli:

On August 11 [2011], a Sunday, Steve called Tim Cook and asked him to come over to the house. “He said, ‘I want to talk to you about something,’” remembers Cook. “This was when he was home all the time, and I asked when, and he said, ‘Now.’ So I came right over. He told me he had decided that I should be CEO. I thought then that he thought he was going to live a lot longer when he said this, because we got into a whole level of discussion about what would it mean for me to be CEO with him as a chairman. I asked him, ‘What do you really not want to do that you’re doing?’

“It was an interesting conversation,” Cook says, with a wistful laugh. “He says, ‘You make all the decisions.’ I go, ‘Wait. Let me ask you a question.’ I tried to pick something that would incite him. So I said, ‘You mean that if I review an ad and I like it, it should just run without your okay?’ And he laughed and said, ‘Well, I hope you’d at least ask me!’ I asked him two or three times, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ because I saw him getting better at that point in time. I went over there often during the week, and sometimes on the weekends. Every time I saw him he seemed to be getting better. He felt that way as well. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”

Set for release on March 24, Becoming Steve Jobs looks like it set to become the definitive telling of Steve Jobs’ life, featuring new interviews with the likes of Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, Pixar’s John Lasseter, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

We’ll have a review here at Cult of Mac shortly after the book’s release.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.