updated 08:30 pm EDT, Thu October 16, 2008
Jobs event speculation
Apple's inclusion of executives alongside Steve Jobs at the MacBook presentation has incited speculation that the company is preparing for his departure, according to CNET News. In the past, many Apple events have primarily focused on the famous CEO, who has been able to speak for hours and cover all of the details. Although some of the previous keynotes have been shared with other executives, the inclusion of the company COO, Tim Cook, and Senior VP of Industrial Design, Jonathan Ive, in the most recent event has drawn particular attention.
After only a minute into the presentation, Jobs handed the torch to Tim Cook, who presented the "state of the Mac," highlighting the contributing factors to the strength of the Mac brand. Steve came back on just to introduce Ive, who spent his time reviewing the background and benefits of the aluminum enclosure. The CEO finally came back onstage to showcase the new MacBooks, finally ending with a video that focused on the new MacBooks and interviews with various division leaders.
Steve spent roughly 27 minutes talking, which was very close to the combined time from the other two executives. Cook was wearing a collared black button shirt and blue jeans, a color scheme matching the standard black turtle neck and jeans that Steve always wears. Ive was dressed similarly, with a dark shirt and jeans, but with a younger look and untucked shirt.
The color coordination could be viewed as intentional, causing viewers to subconsciously put the two men at the same power level, to build up the "next in line." While this theory can't be ruled out, the company is likely trying to show itself as more than just Steve Jobs, even if he doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.
The CEO's health troubles culminated in 2004 when he went through surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer. His unusually thin appearance recently has lead to suggestions that his cancer has returned, although he has denied the claims. Bloomberg added to the chaos of the matter by accidentally publishing an unfinished obituary, although it is not uncommon for news outlets to have templates ready for public figures regardless of their health.
People close to Jobs reported that he had undergone another surgical procedure this year to remedy the problem that was causing the weight loss, although they declined to identify themselves because they were not authorized to speak about his health. He has explained the problem as nutritional, resulting from the cancer treatment instead of a recurrence.
Repeated requests by the press and investors to know more details of the CEO's health status have been refused, with the issue called "a private matter." Although he has not provided any specific details, he joked about the obituary during the September 9th event tried to keep a humorous tone at the MacBook event by asking the attendees to not ask about his health or his blood pressure would go up, while the screen behind him read "110/70- Steve's blood pressure."
Although Jobs' presence has given investors confidence that the company has strong leadership, the association between Apple and its current CEO could be viewed as too deep. When investors drove down AAPL stock this year just simply based on his health appearance, the company may have decided to prioritize changing its image. There is a possibility that speculative traders used the fragile situation to their advantage by posting a fake story that claimed Jobs suffered a major heart attack, which the SEC is currently investigating.
The keynote MacBook event still had the "rockstar" CEO presenting the new products, but it showed that other people inside the company might be just as important. Tim Cook provided the fundamentals of why the Mac brand works and keeps on growing, while Ive showed that the design and engineering teams could produce new innovations.