For the second time in two years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave of absence from the company because of a medical condition, according to a letter Jobs sent to Apple employees.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will take control of the company in Jobs’ absence. Jobs’ health has been in the news since 2003, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He underwent surgery, tried alternative medicines and returned to work soon after the episode.

Speculation about Jobs’ health returned in 2008, when Jobs appeared at press conferences having lost considerable weight. In January 2009, Jobs provided an explanation, saying a “hormone imbalance” had caused the weight loss.

Although Jobs’ January 2009 announcement said that he would return to Apple at the end of June of that year, his letter Monday did not specify how long he expects to be on leave.

Still, analysts predict the company will report financial results that are almost certain to shatter its past records, driven by more than $24 billion in sales during the last quarter.

Chelsea Kate Isaacs, a senior at Long Island University, was recently given an assignment about the school’s new practice of giving all incoming students an iPad. Isaacs wanted to get a quote from Apple regarding the iPad’s use in academic settings. Unfortunately for her, several phone calls to the Cupertino-based company’s media relations department went unanswered. After about “5-10 messages,” Chelsea decided to email Steve Jobs to see if he could give the PR team a kick in the butt and get them to respond.

“Mr. Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the Media Relations Department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance,” she wrote.

“For colleges nationwide, Apple is at the forefront of improving the way we function in the academic environment, increasing the efficiency of conducting academic research, as well as sharing and communicating with our college communities.

“With such an emphasis on advancing our education system, why, then, has Apple’s Media Relations team ignored my needs as a student journalist who is just trying to get a good grade?”

Unlike the PR department, the Apple CEO did respond to the 22-year-old journalism student. However, he wasn’t interested in helping her.

“Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry,” Steve emailed back.

Chelsea responded to Steve, asking if it wasn’t the company’s job to return the calls of clients or customers. Steve responded again, telling Chelsea that Apple has 300 million customers and “we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind.” When Chelsea told Steve that she was one of his 300 million customers and that she did have a problem, Steve told her, “Please leave us alone.”

The email chain has sparked some debate across the blogosphere. Though many argue that if Jobs had time to reply three or four times, he had the time to forward her request to the PR department but chose not to help the student. Others say that while it was rude for Jobs to tell her to leave him alone, Isaacs was quite snooty in her correspondence and seemed to think she was entitled to speak with someone at Apple or that they should feel obliged to return her call because she needed a quote for an assignment. Who do you think is in the wrong here? Full email chain is below for those interested in reading the correspondence in its entirety.

Guess what irked him was maybe the fact that her emails were sent via Blackberry? Ha! ha! Or he just does not care if he shows some bad attitude to potential customers since he knows Apple is on top and people will still buy their products no matter how arrogant they are. What do you think? Share your thoughts.

You can find the whole email exchanges here http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Steve-Jobs-Chelsea-Kate-Isaacs-Long-Island-Journalism,11328.html

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