Steve Jobs said on Monday he would be taking a medical leave of absence to focus on his health. In an e-mail sent out to Apple employees, Jobs said he would continue to stay as CEO and be involved with major strategic decisions. Apple's COO, Tim Cook, who took home $59 million last year for taking over some of Jobs's duties, will be "responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations," as he was when Jobs took a six-month leave of absence in 2009. Jobs ended the e-mail by saying, "I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can." Apple hasn't historically been forthcoming with details on its visionary's health, and it's unclear whether the leave is related to his liver transplant in 2009 or whether his pancreatic cancer may have returned. The announcement was timed on a holiday when the U.S. stock market was closed. Shares fell 8.3 percent in Frankfurt by 1503 GMT. Apple stock dipped in January 2009 after his leave of absence for the transplant but have been skyrocketing since. Jobs's absence and the possibility of the retirement of Apple's charismatic CEO are bound to trouble the company as he plays such a crucial role in product development. But if its latest boffo earnings reports have been any indication, tomorrow's scheduled earnings announcement should bring some good news.
According to Business Insider, Jobs's leave shouldn't affect impending launches for the iPad 2 and iPhone 5. The iPad 2, which is expected this spring, and the iPhone 5, expected in time for Apple's developer conference in June, have both been in development for a year or longer. This means that Jobs, who is Apple's best salesman, might not be present at the launches for those products or Rupert Murdoch's Daily, as had been expected, especially considering it was Cook and not Jobs who represented Apple at the Verizon iPhone unveiling last week.
"[The medical leave] will come as a surprise to Apple investors and definitely take some shine off the Apple stock," Alexander Peterc, an equity analyst at Exane, told Reuters. "But even if Steve Jobs never returns to Apple, I would not expect a visible, tangible impact on how Apple is executing over the next couple of years."
Get well soon, Steve! We're still holding out for that iPony.