Reports about the deteriorating health of cancer-stricken Apple boss Steve Jobs have fuelled speculations about the future of the world’s most important technology company.

Reports say 55-year-old Jobs, who has been admitted at the Stanford Cancer Centre in Palo Alto in California since Jan 17, has just six weeks to live.

Though the reports have not impacted the Apple stock much, analysts and observers are uneasy about Apple’s future without its co-founder who has become synonymous with its unique products.

According Jeffery Young, who co-authored the book “iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act the History of Business,” Jobs’ illness will have a “significant” impact on Apple as the iconic company braces for a stand-off with a brand-new Microsoft.

“They’re facing a challenge that’s akin to what happened with Windows vs. Macintosh back in the 80s and 90s, where one very well-heeled challenger offered its operating environment to many different users at many companies to build its products,” Young told Canada’s CTV network in a morning interview from San Francisco Friday.

“The same thing is happening now in the tablet and iPhone markets, where there are many different players and many products all competing against Apple with its integrated platform,” he told the network.

Young said he won’t say that Jobs will not return to lead Apple again. But his departure will have “significant” implications for the company, he added.

“Not so much in the short term – I think Apple will continue to execute and deliver the products. I think the real risk for Apple is in the mid-term, in the next couple of years, because it’s facing a major challenge from Google and Android in both the tablet and the iPhone markets.

“That’s going to require the kind of insight and foresight that the company will be hard pressed to deliver without Steve there.”

Apple currently sits on a pile of cash to the tune of $60 billion and its share closed $350.56 on Wall Street Friday – down 2.16 percent.

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