Who’s Watching Steve Jobs?

July 23, 2008

Apple Corporation CEO Steve Jobs speaks during his keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California

If Steve Jobs’ well-being is somehow symbiotic with Apple Inc’s well-being, shouldn’t there be an application for tracking his whereabouts?

Someone must have a lucrative business plan for creating an “EDtv” or “The Truman Show” around the guru of the iPod Mac and iPhone.

Perhaps, this exclusive content could be piped to all Apple TV set-top boxes — for a fee. At the very least, how about a desktop widget that shows where in the world Steve Jobs is.

Its a scenario so fantastic that one wonders why noone has already discussed it. But maybe some have come close. The Wall Street Journal says one hedge fund in 2004 hired private investigators to follow Apple’s CEO to hospital visits, hoping to glean information about how sick, or well, he was. Remember — that was the year that Jobs had surgery to cure pancreatic cancer, a fact the company waited months to disclose.

All of this comes because of concerns about Jobs appearance of late, the company’s cloudy response to questions about his health, and their reluctance to disclose a successor-in-waiting at Apple that can match Jobs’s legendary status — and reassure shareholders.

For what its worth, the New York Times says all this sick talk is nonsense, and that Jobs has reassured people that he is “doing well” and free of cancer.

Silicon Valley long-timer John Markoff quotes “a number of his associates” as saying that Jobs is telling them that he is cancer free.
But Markoff introduced new details on Jobs’ health record by revealing that Jobs had a surgical procedure this year “to address a problem that was contributing to a loss of weight.” He cited people close to Jobs who were not authorized to speak about his health.  

Markoff also said Jobs ran a high fever the week ahead of his speech announcing the iPhone 3G and considered canceling his appearance. His gaunt appearance at that June 9 event resurrected rumors he was battling cancer. Sources tell Markoff Jobs has been dealing with nutritional problems in the wake of his cancer surgery. The article did not specify if this was a reference to the recent surgery or that of four years ago.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how many of us would subscribe to “The Steve Jobs Channel.”

Keep an eye on:

  • Google is in final talks to buy Digg for $200 million. (Techcrunch )
  • Tribune CEO Sam Zell defended his plan for large cuts at newspapers across the chain. (Hartford Courant)
  • New York Times quarterly revenue and profit fall (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)


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Good story, thanks. Note to Steve Jobs: You always will be better off being up front about an illness or problem, even if it isn’t anyone else’s business. Whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as the stuff people are going to make up when you leave them guessing.

Posted by Janet Ulmer | Report as abusive

Given that Gateway and Oracle and many other entrepreneur-driven tech companies have struggled with succession issues, Jobs can lead the pack by introducing the kind of succession strategy that none of his peers have been able to implement. Perhaps he can unveil a management structure that ensures that product and marketing innovation will be a permanent part of Apple no matter who is ultimately in charge. Whatever the plan is, it must have the dynamic Jobs’ stamp and show that the brand essentials of both Jobs and Apple will be preserved and honored in the future.

Posted by John Tantillo “The Marketing Doctor” | Report as abusive