Apple Says Steve Jobs Will Take a New Medical Leave
By MIGUEL HELFT
Published: January 17, 2011
Steven P. Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, is taking a medical leave of absence, a year and a half after his return from a liver transplant, raising questions about both his long-term prognosis and the future of the world’s most valuable technology company.
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Mr. Jobs, who recovered from pancreatic cancer after surgery in 2004, is going on leave at a critical time for Apple.
While the company has outflanked most of its rivals in the technology industry, creating a string of products like the iPhone and the iPad that have been blockbuster hits with consumers, it is also facing ever more intense competition from giants like Google, Microsoft and Samsung. Some of those rivals have narrowed Apple’s lead or even surpassed the company by some measures.
Mr. Jobs’s leave is certain to cause anxiety with investors and even consumers. Perhaps more than any other chief executive, he is seen as inseparable from his company’s success.
“He may be the most vital C.E.O. of our era,” said Michael Useem, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management.
Mr. Jobs is known for his hands-on management style and his obsessive attention to the most minute details of Apple’s products. He is also credited with anticipating the needs of consumers time and again, leading Apple to create one breakthrough product after another.
Mr. Jobs, who is 55, announced his leave on Monday in an e-mail to employees that said he was stepping aside “so I can focus on my health” but would continue to be involved in major strategic decisions at the company.
“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” Mr. Jobs wrote in the message, which was made public by Apple.