An Unhealthy Obsession With Jobs - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
6/22/2009
12:49 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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An Unhealthy Obsession With Jobs

Apple says Steve Jobs will return to his position as CEO at the end of June. That ought to be enough to quiet rumors to the contrary. But ghoulish reporters, abetted at times by others shedding crocodile tears, are fixating on Jobs' ongoing health crisis like nobody's business.

Apple says Steve Jobs will return to his position as CEO at the end of June. That ought to be enough to quiet rumors to the contrary. But ghoulish reporters, abetted at times by others shedding crocodile tears, are fixating on Jobs' ongoing health crisis like nobody's business.And it's exactly that -- nobody's business.

Several respectable observers have argued that as CEO of a public company, Jobs' health is not a private matter, and I agree to a point. Rightly or not, Jobs is seen as the "causa prima" of Apple, and to many investors, his strategic importance to the company overshadows anything else the company might do.

But today Brian Caulfield at Forbes overstepped the boundary from fierce defense of investor interests to complete and utterly irresponsible journalism.

Caulfield wrote a piece that strings together gossip from a variety of sources to justify writing that

the weirdest Apple rumor of all -- that the legendary chief executive had left the glamour of Silicon Valley to sneak into a sleepy Memphis neighborhood -- is looking mighty plausible.
To which one would add, who cares?

Caulfield clearly thinks his audience cares, which isn't a surprise since Forbes has been feeding this frenzy for months.

Here's what we need to know about Apple and Jobs: the company says Jobs will be back at his desk by the end of the month. Reporters who persist in writing "what if" scenarios clearly don't understand the consequences that would befall Apple if it were lying -- and at this point, if it turns out that Jobs isn't coming back, Apple would be lying.

In doing so, it would also be failing to disclose a material event, would be violating key provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, and would have to beat back a volley of entirely justifiable shareholder lawsuits as a result of those violations and the grievous harm to the company's stock price if this occurred.

Apple is nothing if not carefully managed -- too obsessed with secrecy and control for some, but certainly not irresponsible or immature enough to fail to understand the consequences of failing to communicate properly where Jobs' health is concerned.

Pundits would serve their readers better by investigating the complex relationship between Apple and Google, Apple's increasing competition with Microsoft in the enterprise, or Apple's conflicted relationship with AT&T. Because once Jobs goes back to work, there won't be much more to say about that tired topic.

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