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Apple Inc. shares fell for a third consecutive day on Friday, not long after the technology company unveiled to great fanfare its new-and-improved iPhone. So why the setback?

Once again, bloggers are buzzing with speculation that Steve Jobs, Apple's well-regarded chief executive, may be sick after he appeared on stage this week looking gaunt. So far, an Apple spokesperson has only said that Mr. Jobs has been battling "a common bug."

But bloggers have been quick to point out that Mr. Jobs battled something far more serious - pancreatic cancer - in 2003, and did not disclose his condition until nine months after the diagnosis. This has fed concerns that he is, once again, concealing something once again, and these concerns appear to be affecting Apple's share price now.

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"Specifically, Apple's explanation did not rule out the possibility that Steve's cancer has come back," said Henry Blodget, writing on the Silicon Alley Insider blog. "Unless/until Apple or Steve issues a statement that clearly rules out this possibility - or unless/until Steve appears publicly again looking to be in robust health - we expect these concerns will persist."

The shares fell to $171.68 (U.S.) on Friday, down $1.58. The closed at $185.64 on Tuesday.

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