I was carrying around the headline of this post all day yesterday since I saw a Guardian article yesterday morning with the text of a letter Steve Jobs wrote to the Apple community. Jobs explained that he felt compelled to let everyone know that he was sick, but he was not dying and he would continue to be CEO at Apple for the foreseeable future. Seems he has a hormone imbalance that lead to his severe weight loss, the condition is being treated, and we don't have to worry about it anymore. And he let it be known that was all he was saying about it.
I don't know about you, but this letter actually leaves me with more questions than answers, at least answers I can confirm independently. Apparently Wall Street believed him because according to the New York Times, stock prices shot up 4 percent on the news that he's not as sick as we thought or assumed.
This week is the annual Macworld conference. Jobs has always been the big feature at this conference announcing new products for the coming year. Last month Apple shocked the world when it announced it was no longer attending Macworld after this year, and oh by the way, Jobs wasn't going to make the keynote.
People were stunned. There had to be an explanation and the one that the pundits came up with was that Jobs was deathly ill. Truth be told in recent public appearances he has looked thin and wan, and being who he is it lead to a lot of speculation.
Is Jobs' Health Off Limits?
It also lead to soul searching about whether it was OK to delve into Jobs' health, which is after all a very private matter. But Steve Jobs is not your average Joe (or Steve), he's the CEO of Apple, which is after all a publicly-traded company, and rightly or not, many believe it is his vision that drives the innovation in the company. His image, his cult of personality, his legend is inextricably intertwined with the Apple brand itself. When Steve Jobs sneezes the stock prices drops, so when there's speculation about his health, it can plummet and it has.
We didn't hear a statement from Steve Jobs' doctor. We heard from Jobs himself. I'm not suggesting that Jobs is lying, but when you consider the timing and the affect his announcement had on stock prices, it's hard for the journalist in me not to at least raise the questions.
There is little doubt that Jobs is important to his company, and it's clearly in his and the company's best interest to put these health rumors behind him, but the fact is we really don't know anymore today than we did yesterday. We just have a letter from Jobs saying he's OK, for what it's worth.