Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes medical leave

SEATTLE - (AP) - Apple Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs sent anote Monday to employees saying he's taking a second medical leaveof 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 questionsabout Jobs' health or whereabouts, referring only to the text ofthe brief note.

Jobs said he will continue as CEO and be involved in majordecisions but has asked chief operating officer Tim Cook to beresponsible 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 iconicCEO's health, disclosing major illnesses only after the fact. Jobswas "cured" of a rare form of pancreatic cancer called an isletcell neuroendocrine tumor in 2004, but his surgery and recoverywere not made public until afterward.

Then, during a six-month medical leave from January to June2009, Jobs had a liver transplant. When the leave was announced,there were scant details about his actual diagnosis, and thetransplant came to light two months after it was performed.

Few CEOs are considered as instrumental to their companies asJobs has been to Apple since he returned in 1997 after a 12-yearhiatus. With Jobs serving as head showman and demanding elegance inproduct design, Apple has expanded from a niche computer maker tobecome the dominant producer of portable music players, a hugeplayer 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 rumorsabout Jobs' health.

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

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

Under Cook's direction in 2009, the company kept cranking outwell-received products including updated laptops with lowerentry-level prices and a faster iPhone with many longed-forfeatures.

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