(CBS) - Apple fans around the world felt the shock of a lifetime when news that Steve Jobs resigned from his post as chief executive officer of the computer company.
Jobs released the resignation letter late Wednesday and speculation over Apple's future began to spread immediately. Jobs named long-time Apple employee and chief operating officer Tim Cook as the new CEO. While Cook is a familiar name with people who follow Apple news, the average person has probably never heard his name.
Why investors shouldn't panic
Investors are definitely showing their fear. As of this writing, Apple's stock is hovering around a 7-point drop (less than 2% change).
Who can blame them? Steve Jobs has been a constant at the company since 1997. When Jobs returned to his position as Apple's CEO, after leaving the company in 1985 due to a falling out with the then president and CEO John Scully, the average stock price was around $4. On the day of Jobs' announcement Thursday, the company's stock closed at $376.18.
There are few corporations with leaders that patrons want to emulate and, let's be honest, worship. Jobs is an icon who is irreplaceable. For investors, his exit from the company is comparable to losing a security blanket.
In a Wired article written in 2002, Leander Kahney wrote about the cult of Mac users and consulted with psychologist David Levine, who says he's a Mac nut, about the religious aspect of the Apple community.
"For many Mac people, I think (the Mac community) has a religious feeling to it," said Levine. "For a lot of people who are not comfortable with religion, it provides a community and a common heritage. I think Mac users have a certain common way of thinking, a way of doing things, a certain mindset.
"People say they are a Buddhist or a Catholic," he continued. "We say we're Mac users, and that means we have similar values."
That kind of influence over people is powerful. Apple's investors should know that "Macheads" maybe witnessing their leader step down, but no one will strip them of their Macbooks and iPads.
What does this mean for Apple?
According to Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD, "Jobs, while seriously ill, is very much alive. Extremely well-informed sources at Apple say he intends to remain involved in developing major future products and strategy and intends to be an active chairman of the board, even while new CEO Tim Cook runs the company day to day."
Indeed, this is not the end of anything at Apple. Jobs has built an incredibly strong foundation with products like the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. His vision will resonate for years, even with a less public role.
We certainly don't envy Cook. The new CEO has giant shoes to fill, but Cook also has the world's most coveted products to nurture and cultivate. Best of luck to him.