Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs strode back into the spotlight Monday to unveil the iCloud, a music-streaming service that the company hopes will power its next stage of growth and popularize Web-based consumer services.
A slim-looking Jobs walked out to a standing ovation from the more than 5,000 Apple faithful at its Worldwide Developers' Conference in downtown San Francisco's Moscone Center, making a few opening comments before ceding the stage to marketing chief Phil Schiller.
The CEO emerged from medical leave to launch an Internet-based service for consumers called the iCloud, which lets users play their music and get access to their data from any Apple device — a crucial capability for users increasingly accustomed to performing tasks on the move.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Monday's event.
(Getty Images photo)
Apple shares fell 0.6 percent to about $341.35 after rising slightly.
"It was good to see him appear despite being on medical leave," said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. "And at the same time, it looks like he is having his lieutenants handle most of the keynote, which is good in showing that Apple is a team and not a one-man show."
Apple's expansion into cloud computing comes as the company strives to stay a step ahead of rivals such as Google Inc and Amazon.com in the mobile and online content business.
In cloud computing, data and software are stored on servers and devices get access to it through the Internet.
Analysts say the iCloud could create a new model for media consumption — bringing the cloud, which corporations are already familiar with, onto consumer devices. It could ignite more demand for devices from the iPhone to the iPad.
Apart from iCloud, Apple will introduce software upgrades at the conference, including Lion, its Mac OS X computer operating system and the next version of its mobile operating system.
Jobs' decision to headline such events often is news in itself, and his appearance Monday likely will hearten investors worried about his health after the pancreatic cancer survivor went on his third medical leave in January for an undisclosed condition.
Apple, legendary for keeping its agenda under wraps, has been unusually open about what it plans to show at its annual developers' conference, a five-day extravaganza for developers who rely on Apple for much of their livelihoods.
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