Whatever credibility Apple’s board had left evaporated two days ago when Steve Jobs announced that his illness was more complicated than he thought and that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence to focus on it.
All year long, Apple’s board has treated legitimate concerns about Steve’s health as an annoying conspiracy theory, arguing that Steve’s health was somehow a “private matter” and even joking in presentations about how silly and manipulative the concerns were. A month ago, Apple explained Steve’s sudden withdrawal from the Macworld conference as a tactical corporate decision to pull back from trade shows. 10 days ago, it allowed Steve to express his annoyance about the distraction and imply that shareholders and other Apple fans were just being rude or insensitive by harping on this.
At best, Apple’s board has failed to be forthright about its chief executive’s declining health for at least six months and probably longer. At worst, it has been lying to the market and Apple’s customers for the better part of a year.
Now, with Steve taking a six-month leave with the explanation that his illness is “more complex” than he thought, Apple’s board has one last chance to do the right thing. Apple’s shareholders deserve to know as much as can be known about Steve’s current health, as well as what his likely prognosis is. The board should tell us. Now.
Steve Jobs’ health is not a “private matter”–it’s a matter of legitimate and serious concern to everyone who owns or does business with Apple. And these folks deserve to be given enough respect and information that they can make their own decisions about whether Steve really is likely to return in six months–and, if not, what the company’s ongoing management structure will look like.
See Also: Steve Jobs Takes Leave