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Let's face it: Steve will have to step down sooner or later, too

With Gates' bombshell announcement last week that he will be stepping down from his full-time role at Microsoft in 2008 to spend more time with his Gates and Melinda Foundation charity org, I finally came to wonder: how much longer does Steve have at Apple? Both companies were started around the same time and have helped shape the industry as we see it today. That has to be exhausting work, especially for someone like Jobs whose design and management obsessions are now the stuff of legends. Steve already stepped down from his other company, Pixar, so he could spend more time at Apple - but I'm wondering how long that's going to last, and what it means for Apple's future.

Plenty of articles are analyzing the impact of Gates leaving Microsoft, as it's a slightly different situation. Bill is their Senior Software Architect, not the CEO - that's Ballmer, and he'll apparently be staying on and doing the same, shall we say, 'bang-up job' he's been doing since he took that throne. But Steve Jobs is Apple's CEO, and famous for the amount of control he exacts over bringing his the company's visions to life. So what would a two-week's notice from Steve mean to Apple and its burgeoning market?

Honestly, I don't know, and since I am but a lowly blogger, I'll leave it up to those six-figure analysts who 'are people who know people' to pen those pieces. But before those analysts start earning their keep, TUAW wants to hear your thoughts, dear readers: what do you think it will mean for the future of Apple and their products when Steve needs to call it a day?

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