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Jobs Jokes on Health Scare, Debuts New iPods

Steve Jobs and new iPod nano
Apple CEO Steve Jobs
Source: Reuters

 

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs poked fun at reports of his poor health on Tuesday as he introduced new iPod nano and Touch music players.

Shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) fell more than 3 percent during the presentation, as frequently happens during eagerly anticipated product launches by the company. Apple last week announced a mystery rock-themed presentation and midway through the presentation there were no major surprises.

Jobs appeared thin but jaunty as he walked around the stage in his trademark outfit of jeans and long-sleeve black shirt in front of a screen, which said, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

In 2004, Jobs, 53, said he had undergone successful surgery to remove a rare type of pancreatic cancer.

Bloomberg News erroneously published a Jobs obituary recently, while investors for months have been concerned about the cancer survivor's health.

Worries about Jobs' health first ballooned in June, when he appeared leaner than usual while introducing the latest model of the iPhone at a conference in San Francisco.

Apple had said he was fighting a "common bug" and was taking antibiotics. But blogs and industry watchers had wondered whether Jobs was suffering complications from, or a reappearance of, the pancreatic cancer cured by surgery nearly four years ago.

Both Apple and Jobs initially declined to comment in additional detail on Jobs' condition, although the company ultimately took steps to more directly confront the rumors.

New iPod lineup

On Tuesday, Jobs introduced a thinner iPod nano for $149 with 8 gigabytes of storage, a new version of the Internet-ready iPod Touch device and said that iPhone users had downloaded more than 100 million applications from a new online store.

The new nano has a "shake to shuffle" feature to change song play.

"I would call it a series of both expected and unexpected announcements," said Michael Abramsky, analyst with RBC Capital Markets. "Clearly, the new iPod nano in the flesh is certainly more appealing than it's been. It was expected but I think it will sell well in the holiday season."

He added that Jobs did not look much different from June.

Apple also said that GE's television broadcaster NBC had rejoined online video and music store iTunes. The two parted acrimoniously a year ago.

"NBC is important content for Apple to have on iTunes, especially with the direction it's taking, which is for iPods to handle more video. Having robust iTunes video is key to their success," said Shannon Cross, an analyst with Cross Research.

Apple stock slid $5.09, or about 3.2 percent, to $152.83 in afternoon NASDAQ trading.