Steve Jobs Announces Medical Leave: How it Might Affect Apple

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Steve Jobs

Marco Grob for TIME

When the highly-visible CEO of one of the most iconic companies in the world takes a step back, it’s bound to raise the question, Now what?

The tech world (and the internet’s gossip mill) was sent reeling on Monday when Apple’s powerhouse CEO, Steve Jobs, announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the company, saying he wanted to “focus on [his] health.”

Jobs has battled pancreatic cancer in the past–in 2004 he took a leave of absence while receiving treatment and in 2009 he took another leave while receiving a liver transplant–so health concerns aren’t to be taken lightly for Apple’s 55-year-old co-founder. Yet, as Jobs has specifically requested privacy for both him and his family, the specifics of his concerns are still unclear.

Naturally, in the wake of his announcement, rumors have been swirling, not only about Jobs’ health status, but also about how his leave will affect the company. When a CEO is as involved and intertwined in a company’s reputation and success as Jobs has been to Apple’s, such speculation is expected.

So how will Apple fare? It’s tough to say.

Jobs announced that he has “great confidence” that Apple’s Tim Cook would be fully capable of managing the day to day operations of the company–a task that Cook has already been doing as COO of the company, Doug Aamoth notes over at Techland. Cook, although not nearly as visible as Jobs, has been an integral part of the company for years and filled in for Jobs back in 2004 and 2009.

But while Jobs has assured everyone that he is still the company’s CEO and will be “involved in┬ámajor strategic decisions for the company,” media and stock experts are already noting the affect that the announcement has had on Apple’s stock. Various tech and financial websites have been linking to live stock market updates Tuesday, closley monitoring Apple stock–and as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, shares had dropped nearly 4 percent in open trading.

Which isn’t to say the news is all dismal. As Aamoth also points out, though Jobs is the face of the company, Apple is “stocked with talented individuals.” And while Jobs has faced some serious hurdles before–both health-wise and professionally–no one could argue that he (and Apple) hasn’t overcome them, with an astonishing strength.

For more on Apple’s COO, Tim Cook, head over to Techland.