January 5th, 2009
04:38 PM GMT
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NEW YORK – Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, finally went public Monday about the rumors surrounding his health.

Jobs has been the keynote speaker at MacWorld for the past 10 years.
Jobs has been the keynote speaker at MacWorld for the past 10 years.

In a letter to the Apple community Jobs said a hormonal imbalance is the cause of his weight loss and that "the remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward."

Apple lovers around the world are certainly relieved to hear that. For months there has been speculation that a more serious illness was causing his gaunt appearances.

Jobs is a survivor of pancreatic cancer. The health rumors really kicked into high gear when Jobs announced for the first time in more than 10 years he would not give the keynote speech at Macworld, the annual user conference which is taking place the first week of January.

In his letter, Jobs said he decided to share this very personal news so that everyone could relax and enjoy the show. He was also no doubt feeling the pressure from investors who have been pushing Apple shares lower on fears that Jobs may not be able to continue.

It is clear from the tone of his letter that discussing his health so publicly is not something Jobs wanted to do.

In closing he writes, "So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this."

It got me thinking: Do CEOs have a right to privacy when it comes to health issues? When does a CEO's health stop being a personal matter and become a public issue? Many CEOs privately battle health issues including heart disease, diabetes even cancer and continue to thrive in their jobs.

Analysts have said that Jobs' situation is slightly different because he is the founder and considered the driving force of Apple's creativity. Some also say the succession plan for the company is less than clear and that puts more of an emphasis on Jobs' health and ability to serve.

In the letter, Jobs said he would be the first one to step up and tell his board if he can no longer fufill his duties as CEO. Despite that promise, I suspect his public appearance will be as important as any products the company releases in 2009.

Do you think Apple should provide regular medical updates about Jobs or should he be allowed to deal with these issues in private? Can the company thrive with or without him?

And finally, is anyone still betting Jobs makes a cameo appearance at the end of Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller's keynote? Perhaps one last thing one more time?

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Alastair

    Seeing as his illness is easy enough to cure, I don't think it's essential that we know regularly what's going on. That being said, should something happen that does affect his health seriously, I think it'll affect Apple significantly.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  2. Reinaldo, Caracas, Venezuela

    Apple is going to sink. Steve Jobs is like the Walt Disney, he is the creative mind and Phil Schillers is just a business person and the one who is going to the over the company.

    I have been an Apple fan for 15 years and in the last year I have noticed the change in direction the company has taken. Apple is no more a community base company, now is a corporation that is sucking the juice out of the products.

    The lastest portables lack of ports and accessories, the new 17" will come with a fixed internal batery... to make you buy the extra $300 Apple care. The hardware updates are taking twice as long and... no Blu Ray support stil!!!! Not to mention no more keynotes.

    So, Jobs is backing up his presence and soon he won't be around. Like Disney, Apple will en up an empty shell in less than 5 years.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  3. Rafael Castillo

    Healthcare information is a very private matter. I don't think there is a reason to demand the disclosure of this information from anybody (CEO or not).

    Now, I would assume that Apple's innovation comes mainly from engineers within the company and that Jobs is the person who identifies which innovations can be marketed successfully and how.

    While Mr. Jobs is an extraordinarily visionary CEO and a leader, I doubt he is the only talented man with management skills in Apple.

    January 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  4. sloane

    As CEO, Jobs' health IS the business of stockholders, I think.

    Dr. Tantillo ('the marketing doctor') did a post back in July on his branding blog, pointing out that Jobs and Apple are two separate–albeit intertwined–brands. He insisted that while Jobs is irreplaceable, he should address the question of succession Now (well, then, in July) to best secure Apple's future–and reassure stockholders. It makes sense to at least have a plan in place.
    Full post: http://blog.marketingdoctor.tv/2008/07/24/brand-advisory.aspx

    Five possible (and convincing candidates) to replace Jobs are profiled here – http://www.crn.com/it-channel/212700446
    This article made me ask a different question–why aren't we hearing more about these people, who seemed well-positioned to continue to lead Apple if Jobs does have to step down.

    January 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  5. Waqar Ahmed

    Fishy...In my personal opinion, steve must step down as CEO as Bill Gates did so that to finish the rumor series once for all. Delaying such decision can cause some serious market hit (uncertaininty)

    January 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  6. Mike Kartus

    I don't believe him. Sorry.

    January 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  7. Tom

    I think Steve has something more serious wrong with his health, unfortunately. We all like his vision for Apple, but if his health problem were no big deal, then he wouldn't have so much explaining to do or have to be so secretive about it. Whatever it is, I hope he gets better, for his sake and for Apple.

    January 5, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  8. myenglishimages

    He deserves his privacy. What seems most disturbing is the way a major company's stocks, Apple, or any other company like it, fluctuate so dramatically on the basis of rumors. How many millions of dollars are made or lost because investors get nervous or allow their suspicions and emotions to rule their decision making. A few months ago there was the false report on Jobs death and the stocks plummeted.

    January 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  9. Michael

    I am glad he finally out and explained his condition for the very same reasons mentioned in the article. He is the founder and considered the creative driving force. But I also think that there has been plenty of time for him to make things clear as well as give some clarity around succession and who the "team" members of the creativity team are. He has changed the world but not on his own. These mysterious issues make the stock price shaky and that is not warranted necessarily if it is in fact a solid company.

    January 5, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  10. Ibrahim Lahoud

    I have worked for Apple in the Middle East for 6 years back in the late 80s' and early 90s'. I "know who" makes Apple, it's Steve Jobs. All the pre-Jobs so-called "saviors" just helped push nail after nail in Apple's coffin.

    Steve came back and, besides technology, believed in beauty. And that, is what made Apple what it is today. Apple is beautiful. As consumers of the 21st century, our perception of quality and technology passes through the filter of beauty. Almost every single product launched since Steve's back went in the whole of fame of industrial design.

    Apple is about a vision, and very few cases in history succeeded to carry forward with the vision of a person after that person left. Is that wrong? Maybe, but who cares now? I agree with the gentleman from Venezuela when he compares Steve Jobs to Walt Disney.

    Steve Job's name is an intrinsic part of what Apple was, is... and eventually will ever be.

    January 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  11. Nam(South Korea)

    I think people need to know the situation in the company.

    Steve Job's health, too.

    He is a little bit important person.

    January 7, 2009 at 5:37 am |
  12. louie

    WOW! I can't thank you enough for giving me Oprah's weight prbs.!! That is great Entertainment! What happened to the NEWS? In a world of Israel vs. muslims,ILL senate scandals(forgot the gov),UK CIA talking of Somali terrorist safe-haven(got these of my local news-spelled NEWS)LOL! Why don't you guys do a ENEWS documentary of the historic life of new senator Al Franken(stein)? But no, in these days of real-life security issues that might affect people outside of liberal media-the best you came up with was Oprah's weight issues!-Is your rating so low ,the only way to get them back until poster-child elect comes into office is to compete against ENEWS and "Girls Next Door!"-LMAO-Best of luck to GW's successor-"B.O."(Barrack Obama)Told many friends that new slang-hope it catches on!-Keep up the good work, by the way,keep us up to date on child stars in today's society-can't wait to watch!!At least until local news comes on and have to go watch what's happening in the "REAL" world!-

    January 7, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  13. Arcadio

    spasibo, što nam poslal sam BOG ego..., ja plaču za nim, kak za rnodim....On primer togo, kak nado žitj i tvoritj na blago vsego čelovečestva....

    November 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

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