Steve Jobs Goes On Medical Leave

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence from his company. In a note sent to employees, Jobs said he'll remain CEO and be involved in major decisions. Chief operating officer Tim Cook will take over Apple's day-to-day operations.

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The CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, said today that he's taking another leave of absence from the company for medical reasons, though he did not provide any further details about his health. In recent years, Jobs has survived pancreatic cancer and underwent a liver transplant.

As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, the announcement is raising fresh questions about the fate of the company Steve Jobs founded.

JIM ZARROLI: Jobs made his announcement in a six-sentence email to his staff this morning. He said he loved Apple so much and hoped to be back as soon as possible, but he didn't say when that might be. In the meantime, the company will be headed by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who performed the same function during one of Jobs' previous leaves.

But Steve Jobs says he will still weigh in on major strategic decisions. James McQuivey is an analyst at Forrester Research.

Mr. JAMES MCQUIVEY (Analyst, Forrester Research): He is the soul and energy of the company. And so it's very, very hard to imagine that this time out, if he's away, he's still not going to be receiving phone calls and guiding the company in his absence.

ZARROLI: In his email, Jobs asked people to respect his privacy. But that's unlikely to stop speculation about his condition and the company's future. Jobs is a central figure at Apple who has presided over the creation of hugely successful products, like the iPod and the iPhone. The last time he took a leave, the company's stock price plummeted, though it later recovered.

U.S. financial markets were closed today for the holiday. But in Frankfurt, where Apple shares are also sold, they fell more than 8 percent.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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