Once again, Apple (AAPL) has showed why analysts and Apple fans have been right to worry about Steve Jobs’ health despite the company’s assertions that everything is OK.
Three weeks ago, Apple announced suddenly that Steve Jobs would not be giving the keynote at MacWorld, a press release heard around the world. The stated reason for this shocking announcement? Apple was just phasing out conferences (see exact quote below). This reason didn’t make sense, and it therefore triggered another (justifiable) bout of concerns about Steve’s health.
And it turns out that, in contrast to the company’s explanation, Steve’s health was the reason Steve is skipping the keynote. Fortunately, the news about Steve’s health is not dire. But this doesn’t excuse Apple’s failure to be forthright about this critical issue.
Apple’s recent position has been that it will tell investors if Steve is unable to continue to perform his duties as CEO. That was not the question everyone was asking after the MacWorld news. The question everyone was “Was this decision related to Steve’s health?” Apple strongly implied that it was not.
(Apple defenders will point out that the company did not explicitly deny that the MacWorld withdrawal was tied to Steve’s health. But it certainly implied it. And Steve’s letter today suggests that, at the time Steve withdrew, the board may not have known how serious Steve’s condition was:
Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.
Translation: Before we did these tests, we didn’t know what the problem was, and we thought it might be more serious).
We are glad to see that Apple’s board has finally woken up to the seriousness of this issue and are abandoning the ludicrous pretense that Steve’s health is a “private matter.” We’re also glad that the company is no longer lying about Steve’s health–by omission and otherwise (the explanation for Steve’s appearance this summer was a “common bug.”) Most of all, we’re glad that Steve’s illness is not that serious.
But Apple shareholders have every right to be outraged about the way the company has handled this.
Time For Apple Investors To Freak Out
Quote from MacWorld release:
Apple today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show.
Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.
Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.
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