Apple without Jobs? Is this conceivable?

For Apple fans, a heart-stopping moment: there are reports this morning that Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, is taking ‘leave of absence’ while he receives treatment for his fairly mysterious illness, described initially as a ‘hormone imbalance’ and now as ‘something more complex’. Predictable, Apple shares have dropped in value, and the internet is alive with rumour and speculation. The first thing to say, I think, is that I wish Steve Jobs well and hope he has a very speedy recovery. I hope he resumes the reins of Apple in the summer as promised.

As is being observed everywhere, this is not the first such leave of absence. In fact, he went on ‘leave’ for 12 years in 1985, and then in 2005 when he was being treated for pancreatic cancer. During his long absence from the mid 1980s the company went through a series of CEOs, designs and plans, and while I don’t claim to be absolutely typical of its market, I left the Apple world behind by the early 1990s when its computer products had lost the innovative edge technically and, aesthetically, began to resemble ‘ordinary’ PCs more and more. And not long after Steve’s return, I returned also, restoring the Macintosh on my desktop and accumulating iPods and iPhones.

Steve Jobs is not a technological wizard, but he is a total genius when it comes to identifying market demand and wrapping the technology in design that sets trends. He is the face and the voice and the music of Apple. Whatever happens to him right now, there will be a time when he is gone, and Apple will need to demonstrate that it can still find the magic without him. Maybe this leave of absence is a good testing ground for that.

For the moment, however, I wish Steve a full and speedy recovery, and a return to Apple in robust health.

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One Comment on “Apple without Jobs? Is this conceivable?”

  1. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, will be putting his feet up today as he begins a leave of absence until June on health grounds. The Apple boss sent an e-mail to staff last night, explaining: “During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought… to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.”


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