Apple's CEO and creative mastermind Steve Jobs has stepped down as the company's CEO until June citing health reasons.

In an open letter to employees, Jobs said that he plans to take a medical leave of absence until June. Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, will take over the role in the meantime.

Apple shares were halted in extended trading. They lost $2.38 down to $85.33 today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

The news of Jobs' step down while coming as a surprise, isn't totally out of the blue, following a previous open letter citing health issues.

Steve Jobs missed this year's Macworld conference in San Francisco due to health reasons. Apple announcing that it was unconnected with the company's decision to no longer attend.

The statement in full:


I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.