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Could This Be It For Steve Jobs? Could This Be It For Steve Jobs?

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Tech / ANALYSIS

Could This Be It For Steve Jobs?

Health issues likely forced resignation.

Steve Jobs in May 1998.(JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Maggie Fox
August 24, 2011

Could this be it for Steve Jobs?

The visionary who helped invent Apple in a garage with his pals, helped bring the world the Macintosh computer, the iPod, iPhone, and most recently the iPad, has resigned as CEO of Apple.

He gave no reason—not unexpected from a man who has been close-mouthed about his personal life. But few believe it is for any reason other than his health.

 

No one who sees Jobs can deny that he looks bad. His gaunt face is accentuated by his close-cropped hair and graying, stubbly beard. And while Jobs won’t admit to any specific medical condition, he did let on that he was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, and had a liver transplant in 2009.

(RELATED: Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple)

Pancreatic cancer is especially deadly, but Jobs had an unusual form that could be treated. Called a pancreatic islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, it is a less aggressive type. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are only 200 to 1,000 new cases a year.

Jobs had a neuroendocrine tumor removed in 2004 and said afterwards the cancer was gone, and he did not require chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Yet he remained noticeably thin and took time off in 2009 to deal with what he termed a hormone imbalance, again giving few details.

Neuroendocrine tumors can cause hormone effects, they can spread to the liver, and an experimental treatment is a liver transplant. Jobs had a liver transplant in 2009 but never said if it was related to his cancer.

According to the University of California San Francisco, as many as 80 percent of patients who get liver transplants to treat this kind of cancer live for at least five years, but much depends on how badly the liver is affected.

(TEXT: Steve Jobs' Resignation Letter)

It’s all speculation, however, as Jobs rarely gives details.

Investors have been waiting for this moment. It’s not clear what the change means for Apple. Jobs was known for his showmanship—fond of making presentations against a black-curtained background, and often leaving the very best morsel as a dramatically staged afterthought.

He couldn’t resist coming back from medical leave to present the iPad 2 earlier this year and to explain the reinvented iCloud service in June.

“You could make the case that Steve has injected so much of his DNA into Apple that Apple will continue,” Guy Kawasaki, who was an Apple executive in the late 1980s, told the New York Times. “Or you can make the case that without Steve, Apple will flounder. But you cannot make the case that Apple without Steve Jobs will be better. Hard to conceive of that.”

(PICTURES: Steve Jobs Through the Years)

Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s 50-year-old chief operating officer, has a much lower-key approach, although analysts praise his abilities.

"Investors are very comfortable with Tim Cook even though Jobs has been a driver of innovation and clearly an Apple success. Tim has shown Apple can still outperform extremely well when he's been acting as CEO," Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross told Reuters.

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