Apple CEO Steve Jobs 'healthy,' says co-founder Wozniak

Other Apple watchers expect Jobs to return as promised in June

A month before he's slated to return to Apple, CEO Steve Jobs sounds "healthy, energetic," company co-founder Steve Wozniak told the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Wozniak, who spoke to a reporter for the newspaper at the D: All Things Digital conference, which opened Tuesday, said he had talked with Jobs recently and that the sidelined CEO "doesn't sound like he's sick."

Last January, Jobs announced he was taking a medical leave of absence from the company until the end of June, citing health issues that were "more complex than I originally thought." The week before he made that announcement, Jobs had blamed a "hormonal imbalance" on the weight loss that had sparked speculation that he might be seriously ill.

In August 2004, Jobs announced that he had had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas; investors and analysts had worried that his gaunt appearance at the company's June 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) might mean his cancer had returned.

Jobs was not named as a speaker for this year's WWDC, which will kick off June 8 in San Francisco with a keynote hosted by a team of Apple executives led by Philip Schiller, the company's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Some had speculated that Jobs may make an appearance at WWDC or, if not then, later in the month to launch the iPhone 3.0 software and new models of the smartphone.

Other Apple watchers said that Jobs will return as expected. "I have no reason to think he won't return from that medical leave," said Walt Mossberg, a Wall Street Journal columnist and one of the two journalists who host the D: All Things Digital conference.

In an interview yesterday, Mossberg, who is well-connected to Apple's doings -- he regularly has early access to the company's software and hardware -- answered questions about Jobs, who has been a frequent guest speaker at the D: conference.

"The fact he's not here is because he's not anywhere at the moment, except taking care of this health, which is what he ought to be doing, and what he said he needed to do," said Mossberg.

For his part, Wozniak admitted that he had not directly asked Jobs how he's feeling.

Wozniak, 58, who co-founded Apple Computer, now Apple Inc., in 1976, left the company in 1987. Earlier this year, Wozniak was a celebrity contestant on the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars. He was eliminated from the competition on March 31.

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Gregg Keizer

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