Apple icon and CEO Steve Jobs, previously having fought pancreatic cancer, is taking a medical leave of absence. The news came early Monday morning, Jobs announcing in an email to employees that he "will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions." What's going on here, and what does it mean for Apple? Already, industry observers are scrambling to figure it out.

  • Stock Plunge, Here We Come  "Fasten your seatbelts," says Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt upon hearing the news. "It's going to be a bumpy ride on Wall Street this morning." Twitter users watching the stocks bear out the prediction. Looking at CNBC numbers, for example, Matthew Keys tweets that Apple shares dropped "6% in Germany following news of Jobs' leave of absence," while "pre-market trading" on this side of the ocean saw downward movement as well. Bloomberg's Matthew Campbell also reports share fall in Germany, though a somewhat lesser figure.
  • 'Get Well Soon Steve!' writes TechCrunch's Leena Rao
While it’s unclear what the reason is for the medical leave, Jobs' previous medical history includes Pancreatic cancer as well as a liver transplant. In 2004, Jobs contracted Pancreatic Cancer, which he beat. Then Jobs underwent a liver transplant in 2009, and also made a full recovery. ...  Clearly Jobs is a survivor; and has fought hard against his medical battles. It's safe to assume that he’s going to conquer this one as well.
  • Maybe More Info to Come?  "Apple is slated to give its quarterly earnings report tomorrow, and perhaps more details will be forthcoming at that time," speculates Audrey Watters at ReadWriteWeb.
  • Or Maybe Not  Also noting the possibility of more information at the earnings report, Business Insider's Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry and Dan Frommer comment, "we don't anticipate Apple to elaborate, as it has not been forthcoming with Jobs' health details in the past."
  • iPad and iPhone Remain Unaffected  "Important," writes Business Insider's Dan Frommer: "This should not affect Apple's major releases that are expected this year, such as second iPad and the latest iPhone ... As these products have been in development for at least a year, probably much longer ... most of the big-picture stuff has long been decided." He adds that "Apple's other executives don't have the same flair or salesmanship as Jobs, but marketing boss Phil Schiller--who led Apple's last Macworld keynote when Jobs was out in 2009--should do just fine." It's "possible," he concedes, that "less-important products could be delayed."