|Jobs turned around Apple's fortunes with products like the iPhone [Reuters]
Steve Jobs, the head of technology company Apple, has announced he is taking a new leave of absence for health reasons.
Jobs made the announcement in an email to Apple staff on Monday.
"At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO [chief executive officer] and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company," Jobs said in his email.
Apple stock fell as much as 7 per cent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange following the news.
Jobs has been on medical leave before, in 2009, and it was later disclosed that he had undergone a liver transplant as part of treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Share price dip
John Terret, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Washington, said that the share price dip would have been expected given Jobs's health worries and how closely he is associated with the company's success.
"He has had Pancreatic cancer, and he also had a liver transplant that we only found out about through The Wall Street Journal, which is the vehicle that Apple uses to let us know things they don't want to say themselves," Terrett said.
"Now, for the second time, he's not going to be in charge on a day-to-day basis.
"When this happens for a second time, when you've had pancreatic cancer and when you look as ill after one year as he does, compared to how he looked 12 months ago, you've got to wonder. That's why the share price is down today."
Obligations to shareholders
Jobs said in his email that he had asked Tim Cook, the current chief operating officer, "to be responsible for all of Apple's day-to-day operations".
"I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011," he said.
"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy."
Questions about Jobs's health have resurfaced periodically since the cancer diagnosis and the subject has been much debated among corporate governance experts over the obligations the company has to its shareholders.
Apple's fortunes have been uniquely linked to Jobs, who returned to the company in 1997 after a 12-year absence to turn around the company's fortunes with products such as the iPod and iPhone.