Apple's iconic CEO, Steve Jobs, is resigning and has asked the company's board of directors to tap COO Tim Cook as his replacement.

The surprise announcement came Wednesday afternoon.

"If there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Jobs said in a statement. "Unfortunately, that day has come."

Jobs has battled serious health issues for several years now and stepped away from day-to-day duties months ago.

Here is the text of the letter he released:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple's brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

After-hours trading of Apple stock was halted when Apple released the news, according to MarketWatch. The company's stock fell more than 6% when trading resumed, then pared those losses to trade down 5.2% at $356.30 per share.

Developing story. More to come.