Steve Jobs Takes 2nd Medical Absence In 2 Years

Apple announced Monday that CEO Steve Jobs is taking another medical leave of absence. Jobs said he'll continue to be involved with major strategic decisions. Day-to-day running of the company will be left to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, a longtime Apple executive.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Apple is facing some uncertainty. CEO Steve Jobs says he's temporarily stepping down. Jobs has had pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant, and now says he needs to deal with unspecified health issues. He says he still will be involved with major strategic decisions, but for now, the maker of the iPad and iPhone will be run by another executive, Tim Cook.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports on who he is.

JIM ZARROLI: Steve Jobs' reputation has grown so big over the years, that some of the company's other executives, like Tim Cook, have been left in his shadow. James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, says Cook is not exactly a household name.

Mr. JAMES MCQUIVEY (Analyst, Forrester Research): Steve Jobs is the face of the company, and so it's no surprise that people are scratching their heads and saying: Tim Cook who?

ZARROLI: In fact, Cook has been at Apple since 1998. He presided over the company the last time Jobs took a medical leave. He has been at Jobs' side during the roll-out of some of the company's biggest successes, including the iPhone and the iPod. Last week, when Verizon Wireless announced it would begin selling the iPhone, it was Cook, not Jobs, who appeared at the press conference to speak on Apple's behalf.

Mr. TIM COOK (Chief Operating Officer, Apple): Since 2007, the iPhone has been a phenomenal success and has completely changed the expectation of what you carry in your pocket.

ZARROLI: In the tech world, Cook has seen as a skilled manager, someone who knows how to keep the company's various parts moving. And McQuivey says that's no small thing.

Mr. MCQUIVEY: This is someone who takes the vision that Steve hands down to the company and makes it work, makes it work on time.

ZARROLI: But Apple is a company formed around the personality of a single leader. And if Jobs stays away for a long time, it will undoubtedly create a leadership vacuum. The question is whether Cook or anyone else will be able to fill Jobs' shoes.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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