SAN FRANCISCO--Though technically he returned to work two months ago, it was as the host of Wednesday's Apple music event that Steve Jobs publicly retook the reins of the company he founded.
Jobs was the first person to emerge on stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts here to open the now-annual September iPod introduction. Appearing notably thin, he received a prolonged standing ovation from the audience, much of it composed of members of the media, but also a range of guests including app developers, entertainers, and music industry types. Jobs quietly took in the applause and then began to speak fairly candidly about the well-known medical problems that kept him away from work for the first half of the year.
"I'm very happy to be here today with you all," he said. "As you may know, I had a liver transplant. So I have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash, and was generous enough to donate their organs. And I wouldn't be here without such generosity."
He used the moment to encourage more people to do the same, calling on everyone to be an organ donor. He also thanked everyone at Apple and the Apple community for the support he received while he was gone.
At that point, it wasn't yet clear whether this was a farewell or a welcome home event for Jobs. But it became very apparent soon after, when he thanked the man who had taken over day-to-day duties running Apple between January and June, COO Tim Cook, and all of the Apple executive team.
"They really ran the company very ably during that time," Jobs said. "So, I'm vertical, I'm back at Apple, and loving every day of it."
Steve Jobs is back
The statement was clearly Jobs' way of saying that he's reassumed full responsibility as the leader of his company. There had been speculation that, though he was back at work, if he did appear at the event Wednesday he would use it as a way to say goodbye and step into the background while a new successor began to be groomed. That was not what happened.
Jobs was the host of the entire 75-minute event, just as he always had been at similar events in years past. Though other executives joined him, including Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, and Jeff Robbin, lead iTunes software designer, it was clearly his show. He also revived two well-known trademarks of his public appearances: his outfit of black turtleneck, jeans, and white tennis shoes, and his "one more thing" phrase.
He also hinted there'd be more public appearances to come, signing off the event by thanking everyone for coming and promising, "See you all again soon."