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Sour Apple: Steve Jobs and snow jobs

Robert X. Cringely | June 25, 2009
Has the high-tech icon really returned to health and his old job? Apple would like you to think so. Cringely's not so sure.

The difference between Apple with Jobs and Apple without Jobs is the difference between The Beatles and Beatlemania. They are not the same company. And while that may not be evident over the last six months, it will become quite clear over the longer haul.

The Mercury News' Chris O'Brien says Apple fans, employees, and shareholders have a right to feel used and misled:

To not level with this legion of fans, who have invested emotionally in buying and praising the company and its products, strikes me as a betrayal of a special relationship. The folks who line up overnight for the iPhone, who blog about their devotion to Apple, who help spread that veneer of cool, deserve better. By not being straight with these fans, Apple risks breaking that bond of trust.

The New York Times' Joe Nocera notes that Jobs's state of well being is just the beginning of the questions Apple should answer, but probably won't:

If Mr. Jobs had retired from Apple -- or had taken an open-ended leave -- then I would say yes, it's his business and not his investors'. But he didn't do that. He took a six-month leave, which ends on Monday. Already, he is reportedly back at work. But what does that mean? Is he fully back in the saddle? Is he part time? Is he involved only in big strategic decisions? Is he back to his old micro-managing self? Have we now reached the point, in other words, where his health is impinging on his ability to run Apple? That's the real question, isn't it? Are Mr. Jobs's health problems affecting his work?

Apple PR wouldn't say "manure" if they had a mouthful of it, and that's the way Jobs wants it. But that's not the way it should be.

When you're CEO of -- let's just say it, the top consumer electronics brand on the planet -- you can't be both a public figure and a private person. Jobs's situation is different than that of say, Madonna or A-Rod. Thousands of employees and billions of dollars are riding on the man's health. Even the mighty Saint Steven can't just draw the veil and say go away.

But knowing Jobs, it's almost certain he'll continue to try. 


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