In international reports recently published, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is apparently back on the job after a six month hiatus to deal with a mysterious medical issue. Apple released a statement to CNN saying, “Steve Jobs is back to work. He is at Apple a few days a week and working from home the other days.”
The business community at large has been obsessed with Jobs’ health due to the mystery surrounding what exactly the medical absence was for and when he was supposed to return. Conspiracy theorists, industry analysts, and geeks around the world have been asking how Apple would handle itself during the absence and what it would mean for the company’s stock prices.
Jobs is a 54 year-old pancreatic cancer survivor who, according to reports, had a liver transplant about two months ago. Some theories before that announcement ranged from Jobs being burned out to him fighting for survival. Almost universally, people are glad to hear that the tech industry’s main mover-and-shaker has apparently recovered and is back on the job. Despite the fact that Jobs refuses to give interviews and is rarely seen in public, many look to him as a visionary for the computing future.
PC Magazine‘s Tim Majarin wrote that he believes Jobs will slide into a new role that focuses on his visionary genius and less on being the day-to-day figurehead and public speaker for the company. According to Harvard Business Review‘s Bill Taylor, this means good things for the company’s stock price as investors warm to Jobs remaining with Apple.
The controversy first started when Jobs announced that he was going on medical leave in January. His feeble appearance in previous months triggered rumors about the severity of his health problems. However, a Tennessee hospital confirmed to the Wall Street Journal last week that Jobs had a liver transplant and that his prognosis was “excellent.”
The immediate impact of the announcement that Jobs has returned to Apple had a modicum of positive impact on Apple shares, as they rose only 0.3% to open the week following the CNN announcement. This tiny stock reaction seems to prove the notion that Apple’s market value is tied more closely to its products and accounting books rather than the health of the charismatic CEO.
During the absence left by Steve Jobs, Apple continued to thrive with glowing reports as the iPod and computer manufacturer reported better-than-expected financials in the early part of the second quarter of the fiscal year. The Worldwide Developers’ Conference went off with a bang, as Apple was able to quell the disappointment of not having Jobs on-hand with many exciting announcements. Without Jobs, Apple announced a huge update in its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, the final details behind Snow Leopard, launch of the new iPhone OS 3.0 software, and of course the announcement of the new iPhone 3G S, which sold over a million units within its first week of launch.
Given the fact that Apple continued to have success with its financials and product lines without the direct assistance of Jobs, investors should be assured that when the executive does leave his post full-time, the company will be in good hands.