Steve Jobs and Apple: A Reality Check

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Since Apple announced that Steve Jobs would be taking medical leave until June, I've seen rampant speculation on Steve Jobs' health, and I've seen some wonder if Apple would be able to survive without Jobs. It's all quite understandable; after all, Steve Jobs is by far the biggest figure in the company. But after reading a post by Brian Lam (warning: Lam uses lots of profanity) on Gizmodo where he becomes completely unglued when responding to criticism he and Gizmodo received regarding their coverage of Jobs' health, I really think it's time for us in tech circles to take a step back and get a reality check of the situation.

Apple is not a one-man company.

Ever since Jobs took the reigns of Apple in 1997 he has surrounded himself with a team of executives that reflect his vision for the company. Apple's chief designer Jonathan Ive is recognized as one of the top product designers around. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook is a master of logistics. The point is, Apple has plenty of talent at its disposal to weather the storm and continue innovating.

There is only one Steve Jobs. There isn't a person on Earth who could actually replace him. That said, in Jobs' absence, Apple should be fine. There's enough of a brain trust there to be able to carry the company. When Jobs does decide to retire (for health reasons or otherwise), a "What would Steve do?" approach won't cut it of course, so Apple would be a different company without Jobs guiding it, but it wouldn't die.

In fact, since its inception, Apple has been a company that has fostered innovation. Apple innovated without Jobs, but what they lacked was direction. Jobs provided direction and focus to a company that had none in 1997. As long as Apple maintains its zeal for taking risks and pushing the envelope, and can stay focused, Apple should be fine with or without Jobs.

Speculating on Jobs's health is a waste of time and energy.

Let's all be honest: At this point, the only ones who likely know about the true nature of Jobs's condition are Jobs and his family, his doctors, and Apple's board and executives. Everything else at this point is essentially hearsay. Fellow journalists may have their insider sources, but with sources contradicting each other, I'd say there isn't a whole lot of stock we can put into them right now.

Jobs is a human being.

I think it's important to keep this in mind: Jobs is a person just like you and me. And while there should be a reasonable expectation for the CEO of a large corporation like Apple to be forthright about any matters—health or otherwise—that would prevent him or her from effectively running the company, beyond that, Jobs health should not be the matter of public discussion and speculation that it has become. All we know—and all we need to know as of right now—is this: Jobs has some health issues to deal with, he had to take a leave of absence, and he hopes to return to Apple in June. If anything changes, the public should know, but until then, let's give Steve Jobs our best wishes that he'll be back sooner rather than later, and let's let him be.

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