January 15th, 2009
06:49 PM GMT
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NEW YORK - Talk about making a bad situation worse. Apple Computer took a difficult management situation (Steve Jobs' health problems) and turned it into a public relations disaster.

Health problems forced Steve Jobs from center stage.
Health problems forced Steve Jobs from center stage.

In an open letter to the apple community just last week, Jobs said he suffering from a hormonal balance that was easily treatable. Late Wednesday, in an e-mail to employees, Jobs said his condition was more complex, necessitating a leave of absence.

Did things really change that quickly or is Steve Jobs in denial? We can't know, and really we can't blame him.

If a friend or family member of mine was struggling with a serious health threat, I would cheer their efforts to fight, to refuse to let it interfere with their life and to stay connected to the things that they felt passionately about.

It is not Jobs' fault he refuses to yield, but it is a failure of Apple's board to intervene.

Given his admission now, it seems they should have insisted he take leave months ago.

At the very least, they should have at least made sure that investors were given accurate information. And if board members didn't know what was going on, they should have.

Investors who jumped in and bought Apple shares last week must feel duped. In fact, there is some talk there may be shareholder lawsuits over this.

The question now – can Apple thrive without Jobs? Most analysts who cover the company talk about the strength and depth of their executive ranks and the talented engineers and developers that work behind the scenes.

David Garritty, principle at GVA Research, said Apple needs to do a better job of getting that next generation of leaders out from the background and into the spotlight so they can develop a relationship with both the investor community and users.

Is it too little, too late? It will be awfully hard to fill Steve Jobs' shoes, even temporarily. He isn't just a CEO, he is a visionary.

You'll notice I wrote the last line in present tense. Shareholders are acting like they are at a funeral, but Jobs is still with us.

If you could ask Steve Jobs a question about Apple's future, or send him a message, what would it be? Are you cheering for his return or do you think it is time he handed over the reigns? Let us know what you think.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Ron

    It must be a slow news day. Although I'm concerned for Steve Jobs' health and wish him well, it has NOTHING to do with Apple and shouldn't be reported as such. People are allowed personal lives, despite sensationalistic attitudes towards the contrary. Find something else report on.

    January 15, 2009 at 8:02 pm |
  2. Fernando

    I would cheer him on. Jobs has done a remarkable job bringing Apple back to life.

    But I think that Steve has learned the lessons of the past and has worked actively from day one, to build around him a competent, intelligent and visionary team of executives around him.

    If Steve leaves, I have confidence that Tim Cook or Phil Schiller will continue with his work and that Jonathan Ives will continue to design beautiful products. Will they be perfect from the first go if Jobs is not around? Maybe not, but even Steve did some mistakes (product wise) in the past, the important thing is to learn from those mistakes.

    It's inevitable that Apple will be one day without Steve Jobs, no one lives forever. What will remain is his passion for the industry and his customers.

    Unlike the departure of Bill Gates from Microsoft, those guys got stuck with a business guy from the 80"s trying to do business the same way without adapting to reality, which has made Microsoft as agile as an elephant water skying.

    The Apple of today thrives on change and it adapts very quick to it. Heck, Apple created most of those rapid changes in the industry when they release a new product.

    I'm not worried of a Post-Jobs Apple, neither should the investors or consumers. The next time Steve leaves, it will be on his own terms and Apple will have the needed leadership to thrive.

    January 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  3. Veljko

    It was very bad handling. But inside dictatorship environment like Apple, everyone was too scared to say loud reasonable things.

    January 15, 2009 at 8:33 pm |
  4. lauro silva Brazil

    That question gets more serious because not only includes persons
    that deserve respect but also money in unknown amount. So investors should be told precisely about what´s goin on there. The executive staff behind Jobs no doubt is skillful but that has to be proved to hang loose the investors.As it seems to be it is more advisable the executive staff takes over the management.

    January 15, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  5. Raymund S

    I'd love for him to comeback and yes, he is a visionary! Is there anyone at Apple who could fill in his 'shoes'? I reckon, no one's even close to his vision!

    January 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  6. Martin Brink

    I sincerely hope all will be well with Mr. Jobs and in turn Apple. I am a MacAddict and expect Apple to keep moving forward as an innovator in the industry ahead of the followers like Microsoft, and Dell that create product for the masses who have regrettably come to expect less of their hardware and software and prefer price over product. Apple has been gobbling away at the market share of both companies for quite some time now and with a mega cash reserve Apple should be able to stay clear of any disasters and stay the course... Steve Jobs is more than an excellent CEO, he is the ultimate Apple visionary, but with so many of us MacAddicts out there, one or maybe even some of us should be able to take his place and keep Apple in the forefront of the Electronic Consumer Product industry...

    January 15, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  7. Roman Rivera T

    I would love to see Steve return, after all who doesn’t enjoy his product presentations and overall charisma? But reality suggests that the image of apple shouldn’t rest on one mans shoes, that seems to be too much of a risk for a company the size of Apple. I believe it is time to implement strategy and begin to change the spotlight from the celebrity center key role Jobs represents to Apple to a far more solid diversified confidence on the Mac brand.

    January 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  8. Braulio

    I really don't care if a few shareholders lost some virtual money today on Steve's announcement. Jobs has done so much for Apple and the technology world that he is entitled to maybe "hold on a little too long" if he so chooses. The user community owes him a lot for the improvements he made to the user experience since he came back to Apple and that effect has propagated throughout the industry.

    Steve, if you want to tell everyone that you just have a bad case of indigestion – you go right ahead......

    January 16, 2009 at 2:35 am |
  9. c

    MR Apple himself, maybe coming to italy soon?

    January 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm |

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