Jobs’ Stepping Down May Be More Than “Temporary”

steve

Has today’s news that Steve Jobs is stepping down temporarily as CEO come as the proverbial nail in the coffin?

Back in September 2008, Steve Jobs humorously addressed the accidental release of his obituary by Bloomberg by revealing a slide that read, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The slip up by Bloomberg hit hard as seemingly a culmination of many concerns over Jobs’ health were coming to a head. In recent weeks, we learned that he would not be delivering the ‘Stevenote’ at the MacWorld Expo, and days later he addressed the public with news of his ‘hormone imbalance.’

Jobs cited the time off from preparing for the Macworld Expo Keynote was to be spent with his family. One theory is that he was so tied up in tests to figure out the root of his health problems that he didn’t have the time (or the energy?) to handle the monumental task in San Francisco last week. Another [scarier] theory is that he’s concerned enough about the outcome of said tests, that spending time with loved ones finally won-out over his obsession with work. A week ago I would have gone with theory one…but today, theory two feels like it may hold water.

Following the news today, I can’t help but feel somewhat betrayed by Steve’s open letter last week, concerning his condition. Was it his duty as the leader of a heavily traded public company to come clean to stockholders and fans alike? Part of me says yes, and another feels it’s his own business to deal with, despite the media’s constant barrage on the subject. Regardless, he chose to make a public statement, and now one week later, he is stepping down. We’ve seen Steve’s poker face before (how many years did he deny rumors of an iPhone, for instance?), so last week’s letter could have been a bold-faced lie. But releasing a statement out of the blue like that doesn’t seem the platform for such trickery. Rather, it’s my feeling that with such a rapid turn around from then to now, I can’t help but wonder if things have really just taken a drastic turn for the worst.

Over the four years since his bout with a form of pancreatic cancer, he’s been well enough to run our beloved computer company, but has almost constantly been scrutinized for a non-healthful appearance. Can the seemingly fragile state of Steve Jobs’ health be brought back around completely in the next six months for him to return as he and Apple have announced? I read some thoughts on Jobs’ health, written by a MD, and one part in particular stood out: treating the symptom is basically a bandaid, while treating the cause is the ultimate goal. If we do see Steve Jobs back in the big chair later in 2009, I would bet they’ve only treated his symptoms, and not the more serious cause. While I certainly hope my guess is wrong, six months seems awfully short to undo four plus years of deteriorating health.

As a person, I hope for the sake of he and his family that he gets better. Obviously it would be best if he can concentrate fully on that, and not on the well-being of Apple. I would love to see Steve Jobs back on the job later this year — believe me, I hope my thoughts on this news are very, very wrong — but feel like his announced leave of absence is meant to ‘gently’ ease the business (and stockholders!) into a post-Jobs Apple world.

Mr. Jobs has easily demonstrated his ability to see the future of technology, and plan for it. During the second coming of Steve Jobs, he’s managed to revitalize Apple with beautifully designed hardware and software, create a digital media juggernaut in the iTunes Store, and has surely laid the groundwork for much more revolutionary technology from the company in coming years. I’m confident that such a forward-thinker would not have neglected plans for his eventual stepping-down. I’m confident that Apple will survive a world, post Jobs, whether that’s six months from now, or six years from now. My hopes are obviously for the latter, and then some.

From all of us at TheAppleBlog, good luck to you and your family Steve. May your recovery be an easy one.

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