I have reviewed a new book by Donald Keough, the former president of Coca-Cola, called The Ten Commandments of Business Failure in tomorrow’s FT.
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Sadly, Apple is now stuck with a question that many people are asking, even if they feel awkward and guilty about doing so. Is Steve Jobs ill again?
The question has been around since Mr Jobs appeared at the iPhone 3G launch event in June looking very pale and gaunt, was put to Apple executives during Monday’s results conference call, and the reply did not help.
“Steve loves Apple, he serves as CEO at pleasure of Apple’s board and has no plans to leave. Steve’s health is a private matter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer. That, combined with a downbeat earnings forecast, sent the company’s shares sharply lower.
Henry Blodget has retorted that Apple shareholders have a right to know whether Mr Jobs’ pancreatic cancer, for which he had surgery four years ago and seemed to have recovered, has recurred. Meanwhile, others retort that it is a private matter and we should not probe further.
With caveats, I think Mr Blodget is right. Mr Jobs’ health is clearly a material issue for Apple’s shareholders. Indeed, in many ways it is the most material issue of all. Apple’s fortunes have varied over the years according to whether Mr Jobs is in charge and he still embodies the brand.
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