Apple CEO Steve Jobs has confessed to being ill, with an official statement on the company's website confirming that he is undergoing treatment for a hormone imbalance.
Jobs' decision not to give his traditional keynote at MacExpo sparked yet more rumours of ill-health, and the Apple supremo has finally decided to respond to the allegations with a frank letter to Apple's customers.
Dear Apple Community,
For the first time in a decade, I'm getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.
Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumours about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed. I've decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.
As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.
Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause - a hormone imbalance that has been "robbing" me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.
The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment. But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it.
I will continue as Apple's CEO during my recovery. I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfil my duties as Apple's CEO.
I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first. So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.
Jobs' decision to open up about his illness shows just how reliant the company has become on his showmanship and guidance in his second spell at the company he created.
Although he was clearly reticent to talk about his health, Jobs' decision may have been forced on him by the speculation and the way it has affected the company.
The reassurance that he will continue to lead Apple may stabilise the situation, although speculation about Jobs' health is unlikely to end with this proclamation.