Apple Shares Fall As Company Faces Questions About Jobs’ Leave

As the world learned yesterday, Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.’s CEO, will take a leave of absence from the company he founded in 1976 and rejoined in 1997.

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The announcement came on a national holiday, January 17, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, on which the U.S. stock markets were closed. As the markets reopened for business this morning, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), which closed Friday, January 14 at $348.48, has been trading about -4%.

It’s hard to imagine someone other than Jobs announcing new products for Apple, but that man will be Tim Cook, who also took over when Jobs took a similar medical leave of absence from the company just two years ago.

Cook, who is the company’s active Chief Operating Officer, has expertise in running Apple to a high level of business and operations efficiency. While Jobs will remain CEO, the major challenge for Cook will come in filling in for Jobs’ one of a kind creative vision for Apple, which in recent years has transformed the music industry with the iPod, helped spark a new phase of device development for mobile with the iPhone, and is now shaking things up yet again with the iPad.

With Jobs remaining CEO, one truly wonders how much time and energy he will still be able to devote to his vision for Apple? Or will Cook be charged with seeing opportunities in the market place and executing the risky ideas that have paid off for Jobs.

One of the biggest challenges Cook will face is rival Google Inc., who’s Android mobile operating system continues to gain on Apple’s iPhone. Apple and Google have both been working on a cloud-based music service. Both companies are said to be in talks with the record labels who own the rights to most of the music each company would sell in their store.

Read an interesting speculative article at FastCompany.com about what may happen to Apple once Steve Jobs inevitably moves on.

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