NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Apple is going to be without Steve Jobs -- this time, indefinitely.
The Apple CEO today announced he's taking a leave of absence to focus on his health, almost exactly two years after he took a previous leave of absence, announced on Jan. 14, 2009, to cope with health issues. Mr. Jobs had a liver transplant in the spring of 2009, several year after he underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004.
Two years ago, Mr. Jobs said he would return at the end of June, and he did so somewhat triumphantly, but looking disturbingly gaunt when he appeared on stage that fall during one of Apple's typically stage-managed events, to introduce a new iPod.
This time, Mr. Jobs isn't giving a timetable. As in 2009, he is turning day-to-day control of the company over to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook. Mr. Jobs is retaining the CEO title and said he will be involved in "major strategic decisions" for the company.
"At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company," Mr. Jobs wrote in a note to staff released to the public.
"I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple's day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011."
Announcing his departure on Martin Luther King Day, a day when financial markets are closed in the U.S., will protect Apple's stock from wild fluctuations as the markets sort out the news. Apple is expected to be rolling out both a second-generation iPad and a fifth-generation iPhone later this year.
Apple had planned to participate in the introduction of News Corp's tablet-based newspaper, The Daily, this week, but last week a spokesman said those plans have been put off "weeks, not months." Last week, Mr. Jobs turned to Mr. Cook to handle Apple's most significant recent announcement, an iPhone running on Verizon's wireless network.As in 2009, the question turns to whether Apple can continue its remarkable run of successful products without him. "The good news for the Apple brand is the one thing he has done is created an organization to deliver Apple-ness brilliantly," Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York City office branding firm Landor Associates, told Ad Age in 2009.
"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can," Mr. Jobs said.