steve jobs’ dilemma

Posted on January 16, 2009

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It is horrible to be ill.

It is even worse when one gets hounded about it the way Apple’s visionary and practically indispensable chief, Steve Jobs, has been.

One instinctively feels sorry for the man. Hasn’t he done enough to light up the world with the innovative and game-changing gadgets and gizmos his company sends out year after year? Why can’t people just leave him be to recover? Why do people feel like they have to know every little detail about what’s wrong with him, when they see him appearing gaunt and sickly-looking? Isn’t his health something private that only his family and friends should feel entitled to be knowledgeable about?

Editorials have said that since Jobs is the driving force behind, and trump card of Apple Inc., investors and shareholders have a right to know if the lodestone of the company is in serious health trouble and could affect his performance, and consequently, the company’s bottomline.

Granted, they do have a point there, which perhaps explains why Jobs and Apple have decided to hand over the reins temporarily to the company’s COO Tim Cook, while Jobs goes off and deals with his condition.

Of course, Jobs isn’t doing himself any favors by keeping mum either. By refusing to come clean at the onset, he has given critics more ammunition and caused even more consternation among investors than is perhaps necessary. Speculation might have taken an even gloomier turn than what Jobs’ true condition might be, as people continue to fear the worst and rumors circulate unchecked.

Famous for being ultra-secretive and detesting leaks, it should come as no surprise that Jobs has decided to remain vague about his health and what ails him. But at the same time, the media ought to give him a break and consider that the company that has been built up over the years since Jobs’ return will have the brain trust in place to keep going strong, with or without him. Brilliant as he is, Jobs is only mortal. Surely the company, and investors, have thought of the day the company might be without his presence and contingency plans must be in place, especially since his famous bout with pancreatic cancer a few years ago.

Yes, he is a public figure and his health could be considered, in some ways, “material fact” about Apple’s outlook. And no doubt Jobs have caused more confusion and frustration with his ever-changing storyline and continued reluctance to clear the air. But no matter how mighty Jobs is, the future of the company cannot rest on one man alone. It is the media’s mistake to stake everything about Apple on Jobs only.

Just let the man concentrate on getting well quickly, so that he could come back and give us even more wonderful goods we didn’t really need in the first place.

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