Leave of Absence: Steve Jobs' Illness Worse than Expected

Apple CEO Steve Jobs claims to be confused why people are so concerned about his health. But this week the secretive industry titan admitted that his previously announced illness was, in fact, worse than he originally stated. So he'll be taking a five month medical leave of absence for Apple to treat the unspecified problem.

For Apple fans, this is almost a worst-case scenario, given how closely many identify Apple with its leader. In a rare but brief moment of candor, Jobs said Wednesday that his health issues were "more complex" than originally thought. "In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June," he wrote in a prepared statement.

Apple COO Tim Cook will take over the company's day-to-day operations in the interim, as he did when Jobs was recovering from cancer a year and a half ago. Jobs pledged to remain involved in Apple's "major strategic decisions" during the leave of absence.

Far from answering the ongoing rumors about Jobs' steadily declining health, today's announcement just raises more questions. A few weeks ago, Jobs revealed that he had a vague "hormone imbalance" that had caused weight loss and confused his doctors. But at the time, he said that the fix was "simple and straightforward."

Apparently, that's not the case. In a letter to employees, the company admitted that Jobs' health issues are more serious than originally thought. But Apple remains quiet about the exact nature of his illness, which is raising regulatory concerns for the publicly traded company. Jobs has appeared ever more thin and sickly at the company's past few events, each time causing renewed questions about his health.

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