Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes a medical leave of absence

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer Inc., speaks during a press conference regarding the Apple iPhone 4 reception problems at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Jobs announced that Apple will provide customers with cases at no additional cost to help solve the reception problems and refund customers who have already bought the Apple bumpers until Sept. 30, 2010.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Apple CEO Steve Jobs said today he's taking a medical leave of absence. But he also said he'll stay on as company CEO and continue to have major say in what happens there. It's not the first time Jobs has gone on medical leave. A liver transplant sidelined him in 2009. He also battled pancreatic cancer a few years earlier.

Cecilia Kang is technology writer for the Washington Post. She's with us now from D.C. Good morning Cecilia.

CECILIA KANG: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: What is Jobs' absence going to mean for the company?

KANG: It means a lot for the company in that there are few business leaders as tightly associated with a company's success or failure as Steve Jobs is. So, the big question is what happens to a company when its iconic leader leaves.

CHIOTAKIS: Yeah, is there another Steve Jobs waiting to take over?

KANG: Tim Cook who is right now the Chief Operating Officer at Apple -- one should not overlook the fact that he's done a really great job in the past of taking over when Steve left for previous medical leaves. But people don't know his name. If you think of Apple do you ever think of Tim Cook? Nobody really does. They think of Steve Jobs. And so that's the big question for a company when so much of it's success rides on its image, what happens when someone like Tim or somebody else were to take over?

CHIOTAKIS: How much does Apple owe shareholders Cecilia? Because you mentioned these other leaves of absences that Jobs took back in '04 and '09. I mean the company came under fire for not telling shareholders enough about his condition right?

KANG: As a public company it actually owes a whole heck of a lot to it's shareholders. If the leader of the company is sick, they need to say so. There are actually laws and rules that the Securities and Exchange Commission that require that. And in the past, Apple's had a fuzzy record in being very forthright about Steve Jobs' health. A company worth $319 billion probably owes a little bit more information as to whether its leader is not doing well medically.

CHIOTAKIS: Cecilia Kang, tech reporter for the Washington Post. Cecilia, thanks.

KANG: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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