Apple Inc Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who spent months on medical leave, will open an annual developers' conference next week showcasing the iPad maker's latest computer software and a new cloud computing service.
Apple's shares rose almost 2 percent after it said on Tuesday that Jobs, along with a team of executives, will deliver the keynote speech at the June 6 conference. It was unclear if the CEO is returning from medical leave, however.
An appearance by Jobs, a survivor of a rare form of pancreatic cancer, would mark one of the few occasions he has showed up in public on the company's behalf since going on medical leave -- for an undisclosed condition -- in January.
In March, a thin but energetic Jobs took to his now-familiar platform at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center to unveil the iPad 2, drawing a standing ovation after months of frenetic media and investor speculation about his health.
But this is the first time in recent years that Apple has said Jobs will be joined by his executive team during the keynote speech. Jobs typically takes the stage alone at most new product or service launches.
Channing Smith, co-manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund, said he was very surprised but happy to see that Jobs appeared to be taking a more active role in strategic planning, though he was also encouraged that Apple was letting other executives share the spotlight.
The biggest overhang on Apple's stock is the health concerns surrounding Steve Jobs and the move to show a united front from the management team is overdue, Smith said. There is an excellent management team behind Steve Jobs and this is a move to say there is more to (Apple) than Steve Jobs.
Jobs and his team plan to unveil a new cloud-based service called iCloud, which will offer remote computing and data over the Internet, and a slew of software upgrades at the conference including Lion, its Mac OS X computer operating system, and iOS 5, the next version of its mobile operating system.
Apple typically unveils a new iPhone this time of year but some sources had told Reuters they did not expect the new model to appear until September.
Wall Street speculation has centered in recent months on the launch of a cloud-based multimedia service that will let consumers store and stream music. Apple has struck deals with three of the four major record labels, sources have said.
Apple -- which has so far only provided content through its iTunes store -- has been gearing up for the launch of cloud services by building a half-million-square-foot data center in Maiden, North Carolina.
Cloud services will be key to staying competitive against rivals Google Inc, Amazon.com Inc, and even Netflix Inc, which all want to be an online hub for Web video, music and pictures.
Jobs, 55, a high-tech visionary who has come to embody Apple's turbulent history and some of the industry's most cutting-edge products, is credited with rescuing Apple from near death in 1996 after a 12-year absence from the company he co-founded.
Under his leadership, the launch of the iPhone, a smartphone with a touchscreen in 2007, and the iPad, a tablet computer in 2010, forged new business lines for the company that created the personal computing category.
In January, he took his third medical leave in seven years, but executives say he has remained involved in strategic decision-making. Apple's fortunes had once been linked inextricably to his vision and leadership, but many Wall Street analysts believe the rise of other executives such as COO Tim Cook ensures a deep bench for the future.
Jobs also attended events such as a February meeting of technology industry leaders with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Apple shares were up 1.9 percent at $343.93 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Dave Zimmerman and Maureen Bavdek)