Energetic Steve Jobs proves doomsayers wrong

Last month a US tabloid published invasive photos of a frail looking Steve Jobs and proclaimed he had weeks to live, but the Apple founder proved the doomsayers wrong at the iPad 2 launch today where he appeared looking healthier than anticipated.

Dressed in his standard black turtleneck tucked into blue jeans, Jobs, 56, bounded on stage to the Beatles song Here Comes The Sun and garnered a rapturous applause from the audience.

The Apple tsar took indefinite medical leave from Apple in January, which some have speculated is due to a recurrence of the pancreatic cancer he was first diagnosed with in 2004.

But today Jobs, despite being frail and thin, looked more animated and energetic than someone who was on their death bed.

We've been working on this product for a while, and I just didn't want to miss today.

"We've been working on this product for a while, and I just didn't want to miss today," Jobs said. "Thank you for having me".

Jobs was on stage for about an hour but did not stick around for the hands-on session with the iPad 2.

But while Jobs alluded to his medical leave, he did not say whether he was planning to return to the company on a more permanent basis.

Jobs displayed the classic charisma and fiery personality that Apple fans have grown to love and wasted no time slamming the "copycat" tablets which he said had yet to catch up to the iPad.

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Competitors were "flummoxed" by the iPad and their tablets had fewer apps, didn't sell many units and were high priced, he said.

"Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this ... These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive," said Jobs.

"The hardware and software need to intertwine more than they do on a PC. We think we're on the right path with this."

The new iPad 2 is lighter (601 grams) and thinner (8.8mm) than its predecessor and boasts significant upgrades such as a new A5 processor, more internal memory, faster graphics and dual front and rear-facing cameras.

It ships in Australia on March 25 but prices have yet to be announced. Telstra has already said it will carry it.

"We think 2011 is clearly going to be the year of iPad 2," he said.

Jobs, who is regarded as the most irreplaceable CEO in the business world, has been dogged by health concerns for years but has proven to be surprisingly resilient.

While doctors appeared to have successfully removed Jobs's pancreatic tumor in 2004, the technology industry has been rife with speculation about his health since his appearance at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in 2006, where he appeared gaunt and frail.

Similar concerns were raised following his appearance in 2008 at the same event, but Apple officials said only that Jobs fell victim to a "common bug". Soon after, The New York Times published an article based on an off-the-record discussion with Jobs that indicated the problem was much more serious than that.

After Bloomberg mistakenly published an obituary of Jobs in August 2008, Jobs responded at an Apple event the next month by quoting Mark Twain – "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".

New health speculation was sparked in 2009 when Jobs failed to appear at the Macworld conference. He announced he was taking a six-month leave of absence until the end of June 2009 so he could focus on his health.

In April 2009 Jobs underwent a liver transplant stemming from complications with his pancreatic cancer but his prognosis was reportedly "excellent".

In January this year, a year and a half after returning from his liver transplant, Jobs took a renewed leave of absence but did not say when he was going to be back.

Apple COO Tim Cook has stepped up to Jobs' day-to-day role in his absence but the company has yet to announce a succession plan or any specific details about Jobs's illness, much to the dismay of some shareholders.

Last month, US tabloid National Enquirer published pictures of a skeletal Jobs purportedly taken on February 8. They show Jobs going for breakfast with his wife Laurene Powell before heading to the Stanford Cancer Center in California, where Patrick Swayze sought radical chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer before his death in September 2009.

They were shown by the tabloid to critical care physician Dr Samuel Jacobson who told the Enquirer: "Judging from the photos, he is close to terminal. I would say he has six weeks."

But Jobs quickly proved this to be wrong, joining technology executives later in February for a private meeting with US President Barack Obama. His further appearance at the iPad 2 event today is likely to further quell shareholder fears.

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