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Summary:

Nearly a month ago, at Apple’s unveiling of the new iPod lineup for this fall, Steve Jobs quoted Mark Twain’s “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” (By the way, Snopes.com and Wikipedia both say that is even a misquote of Twain’s original comment: […]

Nearly a month ago, at Apple’s unveiling of the new iPod lineup for this fall, Steve Jobs quoted Mark Twain’s “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” (By the way, Snopes.com and Wikipedia both say that is even a misquote of Twain’s original comment: “The report of my death is an exaggeration.”)

Even though that remark was funny, and got a rousing round of applause, I do believe that Steve Jobs was serious: he is not as sick as all the pundits proclaim, nor is his health in any great danger. But yesterday, Apple’s stock price plummeted briefly due to reports from CNN’s iReport.com that Jobs had just had a massive heart attack and had been rushed to the hospital. Both claims turned out to be completely untrue. The really interesting part turned out to be how Apple’s shareholders reacted.

In addition to their being a temporary drop in Apple’s stock price there was also an overall drop as the stock closed for the weekend at 97.07…its lowest close in nearly 18 months. The SEC is investigating and ireport.com is cooperating fully by handing over any information they have gathered on Johntw, the poster who put up the “fradulent” story.

I don’t understand why the stock market is so volatile as to let the rumors posted on a site where the claim to fame is “Unfiltered. Unedited.” change how money is invested. Maybe iReport was going to add “Untrue. Unethical.” to the tagline, but they ran out of room, and had to settle on the first two. This could very easily be someone who thought they could make a quick buck by posting the story, buying some Apple stock, and then selling it when everyone found out it was fake. It will be interested to see what the SEC finds.

Here’s to hoping Steve Jobs stays healthy for a long time and that AAPL stock starts the trek back upward before the 21st when the 4th Quarter earnings call is scheduled.

  1. Darrell Etherington Saturday, October 4, 2008

    I always thought the whole iReport.com outfit was of questionable utility. Now it’s becoming downright dangerous. Maybe CNN should go back to paying reporters to do the job.

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  2. I’m gonna have to agree with Darrell on this one. It’s far too easy to begin rumors, especially damaging ones.

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  3. Whilst the report and the obituary fiascos are both examples of poor management of information in the public domain, the resulting reaction on the stock market and business press do raise questions about perceptions of an Apple future without Steve Jobs.

    There have been many instances of companies relying too heavily on the cult figure of a charismatic leader and later being hard hit when he or she moved on.

    I am not convinced that, deep down, this is not the case with Apple, however, I strongly believe the company needs to manage the balance of Steve’s public image and the company’s leadership in such a way that the markets and press start to understand that although Steve is an important part of the equation, there can still be a successful, creative and profitable future without him.

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  4. Yes, that’s right, Darrell Etherington. Let’s just get rid of any possibility of anonymous communication, because some investors are idiots. For our next trick: let’s get rid of all talk radio because people listening to it at work reduces productivity which has a big impact on the economy. Do you believe in that? No? Then you shouldn’t believe in blocking anonymous comms.

    If you invested in Apple and took a hit because of rumours, that is exactly what happens in the stock market. You accepted your risks when you entered. Don’t be telling me or anyone to silence some communication system because it happened to carry some false news. Just go back to your stock market and gamble some more, and leave the levers of democracy alone. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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  5. Darrell Etherington Sunday, October 5, 2008

    I’m not really talking about blocking anonymous comms, nor did or do I plan on investing in Apple or any other stock (I’m a horrible gambler).

    I guess I was sort of thinking of the financial impact, but only in a secondary sense. My real problem with iReport (or any local newscast even that tells people to send in their videos, etc.) is that it seems like the real motivation on the part of news outlets is to save a few bucks by having people do some of the reporting legwork for free in exchange for the chance to be mentioned on television for 2 or 3 seconds. Also, depending on how it’s branded it has the potential to be mistaken for vetted, fact-checked reporting.

    On a somewhat tangential note I’m not allowed to listen to talk radio (or anything, musical or otherwise) at my day job. Thanks for the harsh reminder of my dismal existence. :)

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  6. [...] saved Apple from extinction in the 90’s, cannot be replaced. Investors seem to agree. When a hoax news story was posted on a CNN iReport that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, Apple stock fell sharply until it [...]

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