"Basically, he said he would not take the CEO position at Apple," said one analyst who heard Jobs speak during a conference call for Pixar (PIXR), a digital animation studio headed by Jobs, who is the company's chairman and chief executive.
The analyst added that, two weeks ago, Jobs visited Wall Street firms and informed them that he would review a list of potential Apple CEO candidates while vacationing in Hawaii.
"That list also probably included himself," said one source familiar with board operations at Pixar. "Two weeks ago tomorrow, he told the [Pixar] board he was going away, and [that] being the Apple CEO was one of the things he would think about. He said he was seriously considering it, and I would have bet he would do it."
Jobs told the board, however, that he had other candidates in mind for the Apple top slot besides himself, said the source, noting that Pixar's board indicated they would support Jobs' decision if he wanted to take the Apple CEO post.
Jobs has officially served as Apple's interim CEO since mid-September, but his presence has been felt at the company since the ouster of former CEO Gilbert Amelio last July. Jobs has made his mark at the company since then by, among other things, putting into place a virtually new slate of directors and dumping the company's long-time advertising firm.
An analyst who also asked not to be identified said Jobs indicated in the conference call that he expected to return to Pixar full-time by January.
Katie Cotton, an Apple spokeswoman, said the company previously announced that it plans to name its new CEO by the end of the year.
"[Jobs] has been saying all along that he is interim," Cotton said.
The troubled computer maker, which recently posted a larger fourth-quarter loss than expected, is continuing to see its market share erode. Apple's worldwide market share has fallen to 3.3 percent for the third quarter, down from 5.6 percent a year ago, according to International Data Corp.
And in the United States, where the company's market is the largest, Apple's slice of the pie has dropped to 4.2 percent in the third quarter, from about 7 percent a year ago, said John Brown, an IDC analyst.
He added that the company's ranking among computer makers has dropped to around No. 8 or No. 9 worldwide for the quarter, compared with its No. 4 ranking last year.
Apple is also facing losses. The company reported a $161 million fourth-quarter loss, citing sluggish overseas demand and special charges.
Revenues, meanwhile, fell to $1.6 billion in the quarter, down 30 percent from a year ago and down 7 percent over the previous quarter.