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Steve Jobs is back at work, Apple says

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, returned to work this week
  • NEW: Jobs will be in the office several days a week and also working from home
  • Jobs, 54, a cancer survivor, has been on medical leave for six months
  • Bloggers say Apple should release more information about Jobs

By John D. Sutter
CNN
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(CNN) -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs is back on the job after a six-month medical leave, the company said Monday.

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, is back at work, a company spokesman said Monday.

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, is back at work, a company spokesman said Monday.

"Steve Jobs is back to work. He is at Apple a few days a week and working from home the other days," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said. "We're glad to have him back."

Dowling would not comment further on specifics.

Jobs's return may do little to quell the tech community's obsession with his health and future role at the hip tech company. Bloggers and tech-news writers are asking many questions about Jobs' return, including: Would Apple be fine without its famous chief executive? What does Jobs' health mean for Apple stock? And why has Jobs' health been such a drooled-over story?

Jobs, a 54-year-old pancreatic cancer survivor, had a liver transplant about two months ago. Apple, maker of the iPhone, iPods and Mac computers, had remained mum on Jobs' status except to repeat, over and over, that Jobs would return to work by the end of June.

There have been online posts by CNBC and the UK's Telegraph saying that Apple's chief executive made a brief return to the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters last week.

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But the timing isn't the most important piece of this story. What Jobs means to Apple and to the tech world has more impact.

Here's what some of the online community is saying:

The BBC has an interesting post on why Jobs has become such a tech rock star and why personalities are so important in the tech community:

"A big part has to do with how he has transformed Apple and its products into some of the most talked-about in the world. And, of course, there is the whole issue of his health five years after his battle with pancreatic cancer and what it means to the future of this publicly-traded company," Maggie Shiels writes on the site's dot.life blog.

"Mr Jobs appears to be a complete enigma. He doesn't give interviews; he is described as a genius and a visionary; he doesn't want to talk about the past and he only wants to focus on the future."

Apple has done just fine without Jobs -- and because of him, according to Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times.

"Although such prominent investors as Warren Buffett fretted last week about the company's future without its charismatic chief executive, longtime observers say Jobs has built an institutional mirror of himself in Apple with senior executives who share many of his values and outlook," Pham writes.

Some say Jobs' return will have little effect on the direction Apple takes in the near term.

"He's an iconic figure that everybody wants around. He's the world's greatest salesman and that's irreplaceable," Gene Munster, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, told CNN. "But as far as the product direction and the product quality, the road map for the next five years is already in place [at Apple]."

PC Magazine takes a similar slant, writing Jobs likely will start a new role at Apple upon his return. He'll be less of the company's day-to-day face and more of its visionary.

"Things will be very different for him and his team," Tim Bajarin writes for the magazine.

"Part of the reason is that Jobs has had a near-death health issue to deal with, and he may now realize that his most important role will be to create a vision that can be carried forward for decades, not just the next product cycle."

Some bloggers have criticized Apple for not saying more about Jobs' illness.

The chief executive's health affects the company's stock price, and investors should be kept more in the loop, writes Bill Taylor, a blogger at the Harvard Business Review.

Taylor also says Apple's corporate culture -- which is based around Jobs' charisma -- is out of date.

"Jobs, for all of his virtues, clings to the Great Man Theory of Leadership -- a CEO-centric model of executive power that is outmoded, unsustainable, and, for most of us mere mortals, ineffective in a world of nonstop change," he writes.

The Silicon Alley Insider further blasts Apple for its silence on Jobs' health. The blog also says it's unclear exactly when Jobs will return to work.

"Apple continues to maintain its ludicrous stance that Steve's health and future role at the company is just a private matter -- not a major question and concern for investors, customers, and employees," the blog says.

"In reality, it is both: A private matter AND material corporate information. And Apple needs to climb out of its reality distortion field and start treating it that way."

What do you think? Is Jobs' health and return to work a big story? Is it overblown? Should there be more empathy in media coverage of a sensitive health issue? Have your say in the comments below.

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