The company today released a statement comprising the message Jobs sent to Apple staff:
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.
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.
I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.
This isn't the first time Jobs has stepped back from leading the company because of health issues: He was on medical leave between January and June 2009. (See Jobs Is Back and Jobs Takes Leave.)
Why this matters
For many people, Jobs is Apple, and without him at the helm, driving the company forward, it will not be business as usual.
Not only has Jobs presided over the phenomena of iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad, but he had been instrumental in calming nerves when problems have arisen, such as the iPhone 4 "Antennagate" affair. (See Handset Makers Object to Apple Antenna Claims and Apple's Answer to 'Antennagate'.)
Although the statement notes that Jobs will still be the CEO and involved in major strategic decisions, this will plant a seed of doubt into the minds of investors, partners, staff and customers about what might happen in 2011, especially after such a successful 2010.
With the US financial markets closed Monday, Apple's share price remained unchanged on the Nasdaq at $348.48. But on the Frankfurt market in Germany, trading on the "free market" (rather than the "regulated" market) saw the price of Apple stock dip by more than 8.1 percent to €238.95.
Apple had a productive and successful 2010:
- Apple Reports Q4
- Apple to Launch iTV
- Apple Sells Over 3M iPads, Nets 78% Profit Jump
- Apple: Ads Get the i Treatment
- 300K iPads Sold on Launch Day
- Apple Touts 3B App Store Downloads