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Apple: Jobs back in the captain's chair

June 29, 2009 |  1:50 pm
Tim Cook, Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller
Apple COO Tim Cook (left), CEO Steve Jobs and senior vice president Phil Schiller at a meeting last October. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press.

He's back.

Steve Jobs returned to work at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., campus, company spokesman Steve Dowling said. Jobs in January took a six-month medical leave of absence, saying he would return at the end of June. And it appears Jobs has fulfilled his promise.

"He's at Apple a few days a week, and working from home the rest of the week," Dowling said. "We are very glad to have him back."

Neither Jobs nor Apple revealed the nature of his illness while he was absent. Only weeks ago, it was reported that Jobs underwent a liver transplant during his leave. He was described by his physician as being "the sickest patient" on the list of transplant candidates at the time of his surgery. The disclosure startled Apple observers and led some securities experts to question whether the company withheld information that would have been material to investors.

The 54-year-old co-founder of Apple, known for his relentless attention to detail, is seen by some as the driving force behind the company's products. He was pushed out in 1985 but returned to a weakened company in 1997, and has since built an organization that thinks much the way he does. That, analysts said, has led to minimal operational disruptions -- both while he was away and now that he is back.

"I think the executives know who runs the ship," said Danielle Levitas, an analyst at IDC. "I don't expect his return to be problematic. The bigger strategic issue for Apple is how to get all those senior executives who have taken on more responsibility to continue to stay in the spotlight as much as possible because there are lingering concerns about his health. Investors need to see a team in place that is capable of creating amazing products." 

-- Alex Pham