Apple's Jobs to take 'leave of absence,' cites health issues

Charismatic CEO forces Apple into succession plan

Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announced Wednesday that he is taking a "leave of absence" from his job because of health problems, an announcement almost certain to raise new questions about his overall health.

Jobs, in an e-mail Wednesday sent to all Apple employees, said that "during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought." The announcement was made after the close of financial markets in the U.S.

"I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community," Jobs continued in his message. "Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well.... In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June."

Jobs said Apple COO Tim Cook will be in charge of day to day operations. "I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job," Jobs said. "As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan. I look forward to seeing all of you this summer."

Wednesday's announcement comes a month after Apple announced that Jobs would not deliver his signature keynote address the Macworld Expo & Conference. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for marketing, took his place at the event last week to unveil updated apps and a new 17-in MacBook Pro.

Jobs' health has been a matter of concern for some Wall Street analysts, and a topic of discussion among Apple users and investors for months. The speculation began last June, when Jobs appeared gaunt at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, and was fueled by talk that he might again be seriously ill. In 2004, Jobs announced that he had had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas.

Last July, Jobs told The New York Times that he was cancer-free, and joked about the concerns during the MacBook rollout. Between the two, however, a false report that Jobs had suffered a massive heart attack shoved Apple's stock down by 11% in early October, demonstrating Wall Street's worries about Jobs and how his absence might impact the company.

Developing story. More to come

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Ken Mingis

Computerworld (US)
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