Uncertainty Surrounds Jobs’ Latest Announcement

After yesterday’s announcement that Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence from Apple until June, some analysts are speculating that Steve Jobs won’t come back at all.

In a letter to Apple staff on Wednesday, Jobs said he was taking a five-month medical leave because his health issues are “more complex than I originally thought.” In that same letter, Jobs said he is looking forward to returning to Apple in the summer. Jobs will still be around for major strategic decisions, and Tim Cook (Apple’s COO) will take over the day-to-day in Jobs’ absence. You can view the full text of Jobs’ letter here.

Steve JobsIf you recall, just a few weeks ago, Jobs announced that he had a hormonal imbalance that caused him to lose weight. In that letter, Jobs said he was "undergoing a simple and straightforward treatment" and gave the impression that he merely needed to gain weight and would continue as Apple’s CEO.

Now, Jobs health issues seem to be much more serious, since he’s taking a five-month leave. (By comparison, he took only a month off after undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004.)

The contradicting letters from Apple and Jobs are leading some to speculate that the latest letter is the first step in a phased goodbye from Jobs. "My bet is he's not coming back," said Roger Kay, an Endpoint Technologies analyst. "Despite all the protestations, I think he has cancer. They talk about digestive this and digestive that, but ... forget all the buzz you're hearing. Just look at the photos."

"What he's indicating is it [Jobs’ health condition] needs more urgent attention," says ThinkPanmure analyst Vijay Rakesh.

Other signs also lead some to believe that Jobs will not return. For example, Tim Cook and Phil Schiller, Apple's COO and vice president of marketing, respectively, have been sharing the stage with Jobs during recent press events. In addition, Jobs did not deliver his keynote speech at Macworld Expo 2009.

Whatever the case may be, here’s hoping Jobs has a speedy recovery and is able to return to the work he loves soon.

Tags:  Apple, Steve Jobs