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Steve Jobs’ Medical Leave Raises Questions for Apple

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' decision to take six months of medical leave for an illness he has deemed a "horomone imbalance" caused the company's stock to fall sharply. Spencer Michels examines Jobs' singular influence in the technology world.

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    Just this past September, Steve Jobs felt well enough to make light of his health situation.


    Three things.


    But joking didn't quell the speculation that Jobs, 53 years old and a cancer survivor, was sick again.

    He skipped the Macworld Conference in December. And, as questions of his well-being and Apple's future lingered, he explained that he was being treated for a hormone imbalance. Yesterday, he said his mysterious illness is more complex, and announced a leave of absence from the company he co-founded in 1976.

    He told his employees: "Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction, not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well."

    The market took the news badly. Apple shares have fallen for the past two days. The charismatic Jobs is more than Apple's leader. He is its public face and a cult-like figure, whose devotees hang on his every word and the technology products he brings them, like the iPod and the iPhone.

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