Steve Jobs is on track to return to the helm of Apple this month after six months of medical leave, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cited unnamed sources.
Jobs announced in January that he would be stepping down temporarily from the chief executive post while recuperating from a hormone imbalance, and a return to the company this month could coincide with an appearance at the Worldwide Developers Conference, which opens on Monday in San Francisco. The centrepiece of the conference is expected to be the App Store and the new features of the iPhone OS 3.0, but there has also been speculation that Apple will unveil a new iPhone as well.
Jobs, 54, has been the subject of heated speculation regarding his health since last June's Worldwide Developers Conference, when he appeared to have lost a great deal of weight. At the time, Apple insisted that Jobs' health was a private matter but revealed in early January that Jobs was suffering from a hormone imbalance that was impeding his body's ability to absorb certain proteins.
"He was one real sick guy,'' said a source the newspaper described as having seen Jobs in recent weeks. "Fundamentally he was starving to death over a nine-month period. He couldn't digest protein. (But) he took corrective action.''
In August 2004, Jobs underwent successful surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which sidelined him until September of that year. Much of the speculation over the past year had been over whether that cancer had returned.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, has been running the company during Jobs' absence. Apple has said vice president of marketing Philip Schiller will deliver the WWDC keynote address, assuming Jobs' customary role as he did at the Macworld conference earlier this year.