Ill Apple boss Steve Jobs takes temporary leave

15 Jan 2009

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The writing was on the wall when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs opted not to give his much-anticipated keynote address at the annual Apple Expo, due to health issues. He has now opted to take six months temporary leave from the CEO role.

Apple’s chief operating officer Tim Cook will assume Jobs’ role until he returns.

In an email to Apple staff yesterday, Jobs wrote: “"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 addition, during the past week, I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

“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’ health came into question in recent years when he had a brush with pancreatic cancer.

Speculation came to a head in August when a newswire service prematurely ran an obituary. As soon as the obituary was published it was taken down, but it didn’t escape the notice of wily bloggers who drew attention to it. It was the second time that Jobs (53) was prematurely declared dead.

Jobs, who started Apple in the late 1970s with pal Steve Wozniak returned to Apple in 1997 signalling a massive reversal in the company’s fortunes and leading to a flurry of innovation that saw new products from the iMac to the iPod and lately the iPhone.

In his email, Jobs said he planned to remain involved in taking strategic decisions while on his leave of absence.

The question for the future is will Jobs resume his position in time to present at the June Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and, if so, will he decide to remain at the helm of the iconic computer company, or announce a successor?

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com