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Apple medical leave halts Jobsian jet-setting

But cult head still 'deeply involved'

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Steve Jobs has become quite the homebody. His private jet has remained grounded during his absence from day-to-day duties at Apple.

This bit of news was buried in a footnote to Apple's 58-page Form 10-Q quarterly report that was filed with the US Securities and Exchange commission on Thursday.

According to the footnote, Apple maintains a reimbursement agreement with Jobs for expenses incurred when he uses the Gulfstream V that the company's board of directors gave him in January of 2000, presumably in appreciation for saving Apple's bacon.

The SEC filing notes that during the first three months of this year - while Jobs has been on medical leave - those reimbursements totaled exactly zero. For the three months before that, the reimbursements were a mere $4,000. Contrast that with the same periods a year ago, when Jobs was reimbursed $30,000 for the quarter and a hefty $580,000 for six months.

Meaning either that Jobs has been absent from globetrotting negotiations with parts suppliers in Europe and Asia and not meeting face-to-face with Chinese telecoms or that he's flying the friendly skies on commercial routes - which is vanishingly unlikely for such a instantly recognizable and deeply private man.

Odds are that he's simply kicking back and taking care of himself.

But the word on the street is that Jobs is still deeply involved in management decisions at Apple. According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, he's "working on new iPhone models and a portable device that is smaller than its current laptop computers but bigger than the iPhone or iPod Touch."

Which would be encouraging. If it were true.

No one outside of Jobs's close circle knows for sure. Apple is famous - notorious? - for its careful management of information. Possibly Jobs is, indeed, creatively shepherding the development of Apple's next generation of groundbreaking products. Perhaps he's not.

For his sake, we hope it's the former. ®

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