Business Impact Of Steve Jobs’ Medical Leave Could Be Significant

Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday wrote to all employees at his company noting that he was taking a medical leave of absence. This is not the first time Jobs will be taking time away from his responsibilities as CEO. Steve Jobs is a former pancreatic cancer patient who also had a liver transplant two years back. There was speculation earlier that Jobs – who was becoming increasingly frail over the past few months – could be taking another leave of absence soon.

What has bothered industry observers however is the open-ended nature of Jobs’ letter. Unlike the earlier time, when the company founder had promised to return in a few months time, the latest email from Steve Jobs’ does not mention a possible return date. In addition, he also writes about the “exciting plans we have in place for 2011” – indicating that this time it could be longer.

Steve Jobs has been the face of Apple since he took over the company as CEO in the mid-nineties. The American stock market was closed on Monday that should have helped prevent frantic panic-selling. The Apple stocks (NASDAQ : AAPL) however tanked in Germany falling by over 6%. The impact on immediate stock prices at NASDAQ will be apparent when the stock market opens on Tuesday.

What is concerning though is Apple’s plans for the rest of the year. The company is expected to launch a number of new products including the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 this year. The next few months will be testing times for Tim Cook, the COO at Apple who will take over the company in Jobs’ absence. Steve Jobs meanwhile, will continue being the CEO and will take part in all major strategic decisions.