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Apple CEO Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave

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SEATTLE (AP) — Apple Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs sent a note Monday to employees saying he’s taking a second medical leave of absence in two years so he can focus on his health.

No further information about his current condition was provided. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling would not directly answer questions about Jobs’ health or whereabouts, referring only to the text of the brief note.

Jobs said he will continue as CEO and be involved in major decisions, but has asked chief operating officer Tim Cook to be responsible for all day-to-day operations.

“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” Jobs wrote.

Apple has a long history of secrecy when it comes to the iconic CEO’s health, disclosing major illnesses only after the fact. Jobs was “cured” of a rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor in 2004, but his surgery and recovery were not made public until afterward.

Then, during a six-month medical leave from January to June 2009, Jobs had a liver transplant. When the leave was announced, there were scant details about his actual diagnosis, and the transplant came to light two months after it was performed.

Few CEOs are considered as instrumental to their companies as Jobs has been to Apple since he returned in 1997 after a 12-year hiatus. With Jobs serving as head showman and demanding elegance in product design, Apple has expanded from a niche computer maker to become the dominant producer of portable music players, a huge player in the cell phone business and the inventor, with the iPad, of a new category of tablet computers.

Shares of Apple have plunged in the past with news and rumors about Jobs’ health.

During both the 2004 and 2009 health scares, Cook took the reins. Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, ran the Cupertino, Calif.-based company for two months in 2004 while Jobs battled cancer. His performance won him the promotion to chief operating officer in 2005.

Analysts credit Cook with solving problems that Apple was having with inventory management. Many people consider Cook as Jobs’ logical successor.

Under Cook’s direction in 2009, the company kept cranking out well-received products including updated laptops with lower entry-level prices and a faster iPhone with many longed-for features.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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