Report: Jobs Headed Back to Apple CEO Role

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Back in January, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced a six-month leave of absence to address health concerns he claimed stemmed from a hormonal imbalance. For months, Jobs’ health had been the subject of industry and media speculation, owing in part to the Apple CEO’s visible weight loss between public appearances and Apple’s (and Jobs’) refusal to discuss the issue, citing personal privacy. Apple at one point tried to pass off Jobs’ haggard appearance to a common bug; media speculation immediately focused on a possible recurrence of pancreatic cancer (for which Jobs was treated in 2004) or repercussions from its treatment, and a false report in late 2008 that Jobs had suffered a heart attack had an immediate and sharp impact on Apple’s stock price.

Now, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that Jobs is on track to return to Apple in the near future, citing a person who had seen Jobs in the last few weeks. Industry speculation has Jobs returning full-time to Apple by the end of June, although insider reports have consistently indicated Jobs hasn’t entirely been out of the loop during his convalescence, and Apple execs have consistently indicated Jobs was involved in the company’s strategic decision-making during his leave. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has also recently described Jobs has sounding healthy and energetic, although the two apparently did not discuss Jobs’ health directly.

Apple is set to open its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, at which the company is set to roll out its iPhone 3.0 software and (likely) announce new iPhone products, in addition to the forthcoming version of of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard.