Video: Apple’s future uncertain as Jobs announces third leave

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    >>> a sudden announcement from apple 's ceo steve jobs that he's taking another medical leave of absence. today, national correspondent amy robach is here with details on that. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you. this is the second medical leave in two years for the apple billionaire and his third since 2004 . he's already battled pancreas cancer and had a liver transplant . this news is raising questions about his health and how apple will be impacted.

    >> and we call it -- the ipad. [ applause ]

    >> reporter: he's the genius behind the products that have changed the world. as ceo of apple , steve jobs is used to getting attention.

    >> anywhere i want to go, anything i want to make bigger.

    >> reporter: now he's in the spotlight for a different reason. on monday jobs announced he'll take another leave of absence to focus on health . in an e-mail to employees he said, i love apple so much and hope to be back as soon as i can. my family and i deeply appreciate respect for our privacy. it's the latest health scare for the 55-year-old ceo. in 2004 , jobs revealed he had pancreatic cancer and declared surgery to remove the cancer was a success. in 2008 while introducing the newest ipod, jobs looked thin and frail, sparking rumors that his health was slipping again. jobs joked about it saying reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. two years ago in january of 2009 a stunning announcement. jobs took another leave of absence to deal with health problems. he had a liver transplant and was back at work after a six-month break.

    >> i'm back at apple , loving every day of it.

    >> reporter: now a third leave and though jobs hasn't said what's wrong, cancer experts say in cases like this, in general, there are signs of hope.

    >> there is a very unique kind of pancreatic cancer . these tumors grow slower and they have a much better prognosis in general. if a patient has cancer come back there are a host of treatment options available, some of which can result in, i think, dramatic recovery.

    >> reporter: already industry experts are asking about the future of apple without its creative powerhouse.

    >> no one can fill steve jobs ' shoes. he is the albert einstein of our time. he is in charge of everything at that company. when he is no longer there to do that, it's going to be a very different place.

    >> reporter: apple releases its quarterly earnings report today and steve jobs will remain ceo. in his e-mail he said he will be involved in all major decisions. during his leave tim cook will be in charge of day-to-day operations. matt?

    >> dr. nancy snyderman is nbc's chief medical editor and jim cremer is the host of "mad money" on m srkmsnbc. we have precious little information. the e-mail said the board of directors granted me a medical leave of absence to focus on my health . is it a continuation of something he's had or something new? and we don't know.

    >> jobs and his family have kept this very close to the vest. you're right. there is going to be a lot of speculation now. the kind of tumor he had in the pancreas is the best possible kind if you are going to get one. when it spreads to the liver it can spread quickly. he was diagnosed in 2004 . he underwent a liver transplant in 2009 . any time you have an organ transplant you go on immunosuppressive drugs. in a cancer patient that concerns doctors because if you reduce a person's ability to fight off a tumor there could be a new tumor. he could reject the liver. there could be infection and at least those three things go to the top of the list.

    >> you talk about rejection of the donated liver. i thought that happened more quickly. might it happen at this stage of the game, a year after the transplant?

    >> it doesn't always happen quickly. it can be a slow process. the concern here is that if you look at the kind of tumor he's had and the treatments he's had, there are only about 20 cases like this in the literature. one-year survival rate is 80% but that drops to about 45% after five years. so certainly people in the know -- and there is a small group of doctors who are really so expert in this field and those people have been consulted -- are walking a very fine line about what information they are giving and what prognosis. i'm sure he's been given alternatives and treatment plans and this now becomes a quiet, personal conversation.

    >> thanks, nancy. let's go to jim . obviously, most importantly, his health and well-being. the fact is he's linked as the face of one of the coolest, most successful tech companies in the world. so what's the impact on apple ?

    >> remember, this guy is the greatest manufacturer of our time. he's henry ford . he's the greatest inventor of our time, thomas edison . what people don't realize is he's also sam walden. put them together and you will get a company that's not as good. he has the single best bench i have seen because this happened before . tim cook is able. many people will fill his role but he'll be missed.

    >> we'll talk about tim cook in a minute. the timing, the announcement of him taking a leave of absence for medical purposes came yesterday, a holiday here, the markets were closed. today apple release it is qua leeleases the quarterly earnings. was there a plan?

    >> i have to believe there was. better to get this out. i think people will feel much better. it's also the right corporate thing to do, the right ethical thing to do. you buy the stock and the news comes out next week you have a lawsuit against apple .

    >> you mentioned tim cook . he's the man that will be taking over for the interim period. he's clearly a competent businessman. can he keep the cool in the company?

    >> stock went down 8% last time we had this announcement. up 60% over the next six months because, i think, of the great hand cook gave it. i think this man is terrific and the team is great.

    >> all right. jim and nancy, both of you, thank you very much. we appreciate it.

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