How will Jobs’ medical leave affect Apple?

David Gura Jan 17, 2011

How will Jobs’ medical leave affect Apple?

David Gura Jan 17, 2011


BOB MOON: Word that Steve Jobs is taking leave from Apple again to focus on health issues shouldn’t really come as a shock to investors. He’s battled pancreatic cancer and he’s been through a liver transplant. Jobs sent employees an e-mail today.
It said: “I love Apple so much, and hope to be back as soon as I can.” But his optimistic spin didn’t keep Apple stock from falling in overseas trading today — by as much as 8 percent.

Still, as Marketplace’s David Gura reports,
investors might want to hold that sell order.

DAVID GURA: Couple of years ago, Steve Jobs looked sick. He was gaunt, with owl-like eyes. Those black turtlenecks didn’t seem to fit right. In 2009, he took a six-month leave of absence.

PETER COHAN: And the company actually was just fine while he was gone.

Peter Cohan is a management consultant. Today’s announcement raised new speculation about the company’s future. It came on a federal holiday, when U.S. markets were closed. And just a day before Apple is supposed to announce new earnings numbers.

Carl Howe is a technology analyst with The Yankee Group. He says Steve Jobs has done wonders for the company, but he may get too much credit for its success.

CARL HOWE: Nobody runs a $50 billion-plus company as a one-man show.

Howe says it’s a myth Jobs is pulling all the levers at Apple.

HOWE: No question he made the hard decisions — he made a lot of the gut calls that really have made them successful — but the reality is there are a lot of people behind him who are doing their jobs every day and making Apple successful.

That group includes the company’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook. He’ll oversee Apple on a day-to-day basis while Jobs is on leave. Howe also credits Jonathan Ive, its head designer. And Ron Johnson, who heads Apple’s retail operations.

HOWE: Nine years ago, everybody said retail was a fool’s errand for Apple. Now, it’s one of the most-powerful retail brands in the world, and that’s not because Steve Jobs did all the work.

Howe says Steve Jobs has drafted a succession plan, but it’s unclear what’s in it. And that’s somehow fitting for a man who’s built a brand on secrecy and surprise.

I’m David Gura for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.