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For the third time in seven years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has temporarily stepped away from the iconic tech company to tend to his health.

In a brief, terse media advisory, the company quoted from an email Jobs sent to all employees announcing that he was taking a temporary medical leave.

As on the past two occasions, Apple COO Tim Cook will run the company in Jobs’s absence. In August 2004, Jobs underwent surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer and returned to work after a month. In January 2009, Jobs took a six-month medical leave for what the public and Apple investors later learned was a liver transplant.

The company has been widely criticized for failing to publicly lay out its succession plan, although Apple says the board has one in place.

This week, Apple and News Corp. were widely expected to announce The Daily, a new online newspaper designed for Apple’s iPad tablet. That announcement was delayed, purportedly because of a problem with Apple’s software for handling media subscriptions.

Jobs has been heavily involved in the launch and development of the iPad, so his medical leave may raise questions about the reasons for the delay in the Daily announcement.

Here’s the email Apple says Jobs sent to his employees:


At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.


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