Get well soon

Uh-oh. This could be bad. Steve Jobs has announced that he's taken medical leave from Apple, and he's not saying when he's coming back.

He'll still be the CEO, and be involved in big decisions, but the day-to-day running of the company will pass to Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook.

What's wrong with him? Well, we don't know. The Apple chief is notoriously private about his health, even though many believe Apple's prosperity depends directly on Jobs' personal wellbeing. But it's safe to assume he's not stepping away from his beloved company - especially at a time they're basically on top of the world - because of 'flu.

Sadly, we've been here before. Jobs took several months off in late 2008 and early 2009. That turned out to be for a liver transplant, which turned out to be part of Jobs' treatment for pancreatic cancer. Jobs' new medical leave seems highly likely to mean the cancer is back.

What does it mean for Apple? Well, in the short term, the company has to reassure its investors - Apple's shares dropped 6.4% on the Frankfurt stock exchange in response to the news. (Apple cleverly released the news on a public holiday in the US, so the New York Stock Exchange wasn't trading.)

As long as Jobs remains involved in big decisions, Apple should be fine, but this has inevitably led to questions over who's fit to lead the company when he finally retires - or is forced to retire by ill-health. Design guru Jony Ive would be one possibility, but the fact that Tim Cook is in day-to-day charge now suggests it could be him. Right now, no-one really knows anything.

But the tech community seems pretty united in wishing Jobs a speedy recovery. Journalist Dan Lyons, who's been writing the Fake Steve Jobs blog for several years now, has announced he's retiring his comic alter-ego, and called for Jobs' privacy to be respected. We'd of course like to add our voice to the chorus: get better, Steve.

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