SEATTLE – Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, the charismatic frontman for the company that overturned the smartphone industry and invented a new category of tablet computers, is taking a second medical leave of absence in two years.
In the last decade, Jobs, 55, has survived a rare but curable form of pancreatic cancer and undergone a liver transplant. The news that he will again step down from his day-to-day role raises serious questions about the CEO’s health.
But analysts believe the company is in good hands with the current slate of talented executives – even as Apple faces increasing competition.
Jobs has played the role of industry oracle, seeming to know what consumers want even before they do. He is also known as a demanding and hands-on leader who is involved in even the smallest details of product development. Investors have pinned much of their faith in the company on Jobs himself, sending shares tumbling on every bit of news or rumor of his ailing health.
For now, very little is known about Jobs’ current condition. Apple did not provide any information beyond a six-sentence note from Jobs to employees announcing his leave.
Unlike Jobs’ 2009 leave of absence, when he vowed to return to work in just under six months, Jobs did not say in the note made public Monday how long he would be on leave this time. He said he will continue as CEO and will be involved in major decisions. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will be responsible for all day-to-day operations.
The company announced Jobs’ leave a day before the company is set to report quarterly earnings.
In Europe, investors reacted sharply and Apple’s shares closed in Frankfurt a staggering 6.6 percent lower at $323.02.
While some analysts expect Apple shares to sink today in the U.S., many believe the company can function successfully even without Jobs in the corner office full-time – even with Apple at the forefront of a new revolution in personal computing.