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Steve Wozniak Would Consider Returning to Apple

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, pauses before answering a question from the floor after speaking on ''Innovation and Creativity in the 21st Century'' at a seminar in Singapore March 8, 2011.Reuters/Tim Chong

Steve Wozniak would consider returning to an active role at Apple, the company he co-founded, and believes the consumer electronics giant could afford to be more open than it is, he told Reuters.

"I'd consider it, yeah," the 60-year-old computer engineer said in an interview, when asked whether he would play a more active role if asked.

He founded Apple Computer in 1976 with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, and built the Apple I and Apple II computers that helped revolutionize personal computing.

Wozniak, who was in the English seaside town of Brighton for a computer server conference and to present a software developer award, stopped working for Apple in 1987 but is still on the payroll.

Chief Executive Jobs is currently on indefinite medical leave, his third medical absence since 2004.

The visionary Apple leader had a liver transplant two years ago and surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2005.

Apple -- whose Macintosh computers, iPod, iPhone and iPad have transformed consumer electronics -- became the world's most valuable technology company last year, overtaking software giant Microsoft.

"There's just an awful lot I know about Apple products and competing products that has some relevance, some meaning. They're my own feelings, though," said Wozniak, who is currently chief scientist of storage start-up Fusion-io.

Asked his opinion of Apple today, he said: "Unbelievable. The products, one after another, quality and hits."

Many consumers like Apple products because they make it easy to buy and consume content without glitches, but the closed system that makes this possible locks customers and media and software providers into Apple's proprietary iTunes online store and iOS operating system. Some critics compare it to Microsoft in that regard.

Wozniak, a lifelong hands-on engineer, said he liked technology to be relatively open so that he could "get in there and add my own touches."

"My thinking is that Apple could be more open and not lose sales," said Wozniak, but added: "I'm sure they're making the right decisions for the right reasons for Apple."