Apple lied about Steve Jobs’ health when it tried to quash concerns about his appearance at the WWDC conference last month, Joe Nocera of the New York Times says. Steve himself also finally weighed in on the matter last week, calling Joe Nocera a “slime bucket.” Most importantly, it seems Steve’s cancer has not reappeared. Nocera:
Apple tells analysts far less about its operations than most companies do. It turns low-level decisions into state secrets. Directors are often left out of the loop. And it dissembles with impunity.
As, indeed, it has in this latest episode. On Wednesday, John Markoff reported in The New York Times that Mr. Jobs had had a surgical procedure earlier this year, the details of which remain unclear. I hear that he has had ongoing digestive difficulties, which have contributed to his weight loss — possibly a side effect of the surgery. And in the weeks leading up to the conference, he came down with an infection, which had a lot to do with why he looked so gaunt. It wasn’t cancer, thank goodness. But was more than a “common bug.” By claiming Mr. Jobs had a bug, Apple wasn’t just going dark on its shareholders. It was deceiving them.
And then Steve finally weighs in:
On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.
Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn’t hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than “a common bug,” they weren’t life-threatening and he doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer. After he hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I had just been handed, by Mr. Jobs himself, the very information he was refusing to share with the shareholders who have entrusted him with their money.