Jobs’ shock decision to step down from the helm ranked as the most discussed topic on Chinese Twitter-like sites and many web users said his departure would rip the “soul” out of the high-tech gadget maker.
“Jobs is the god we worship, I cannot imagine what Apple will be without him,” Lei Jun, founder of Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi, wrote on Sina’s micro-blogging service Weibo, which by early Friday had been swamped with 2.5 million posts on a special page dedicated to the news.
Some online users joked that Apple’s latest product was “iQuit”, while one blogger said “if Bill Gates is the King of software, Steve Jobs must be the King of Everything!”.
Jobs, who underwent an operation for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and a liver transplant in 2009, said Wednesday he was stepping down as chief executive to be replaced by chief operating officer Tim Cook.
The 56-year-old said he could no longer meet the “duties and expectations” of running what is the world’s second most-valuable company after oil giant ExxonMobil.
An online survey by Sina found 64 percent of the 33,753 respondents believed Jobs’ decision to quit would have a “huge” impact on Apple, whose iPod, iPhone and, most recently, iPad tablet have been hugely popular in China.
Many die hard fans in China — which has the world’s largest online population with 485 million users — queue for days to get their hands on the latest products.
The craze for all things Apple has triggered widespread cloning of iPhones and iPads and in July an American blogger uncovered fake Apple stores in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.
Apple said its second quarter revenue in greater China — an area including Taiwan and Hong Kong — reached $3.8 billion, six times that seen in the same period last year, making the region a key driver behind the company’s record results.