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
"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
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
told Ad Age in 2009.
"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can," Mr.