How will Jobs' medical leave affect Apple?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs

TEXT OF STORY

BOB MOON: Word that Steve Jobs is taking leave from Apple again to focus on health issues shouldn't really come as a shock to investors. He's battled pancreatic cancer and he's been through a liver transplant. Jobs sent employees an e-mail today.
It said: "I love Apple so much, and hope to be back as soon as I can." But his optimistic spin didn't keep Apple stock from falling in overseas trading today -- by as much as 8 percent.

Still, as Marketplace's David Gura reports,
investors might want to hold that sell order.


DAVID GURA: Couple of years ago, Steve Jobs looked sick. He was gaunt, with owl-like eyes. Those black turtlenecks didn't seem to fit right. In 2009, he took a six-month leave of absence.

PETER COHAN: And the company actually was just fine while he was gone.

Peter Cohan is a management consultant. Today's announcement raised new speculation about the company's future. It came on a federal holiday, when U.S. markets were closed. And just a day before Apple is supposed to announce new earnings numbers.

Carl Howe is a technology analyst with The Yankee Group. He says Steve Jobs has done wonders for the company, but he may get too much credit for its success.

CARL HOWE: Nobody runs a $50 billion-plus company as a one-man show.

Howe says it's a myth Jobs is pulling all the levers at Apple.

HOWE: No question he made the hard decisions -- he made a lot of the gut calls that really have made them successful -- but the reality is there are a lot of people behind him who are doing their jobs every day and making Apple successful.

That group includes the company's chief operating officer, Tim Cook. He'll oversee Apple on a day-to-day basis while Jobs is on leave. Howe also credits Jonathan Ive, its head designer. And Ron Johnson, who heads Apple's retail operations.

HOWE: Nine years ago, everybody said retail was a fool's errand for Apple. Now, it's one of the most-powerful retail brands in the world, and that's not because Steve Jobs did all the work.

Howe says Steve Jobs has drafted a succession plan, but it's unclear what's in it. And that's somehow fitting for a man who's built a brand on secrecy and surprise.

I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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