Joe Nocera: "It's Time for Apple to Come Clean" @ NY Times Executive Suite blog (15 Jan 2009)The most indispensable chief executive in the United States, beloved by customers and investors for his magnificent turnaround of the company he founded — and for the amazing gadgets his company produces — can no longer be trusted on the subject of whether he is healthy enough to continue running the company. Although Mr. Jobs says he will return in June, [Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf, who follows Apple] wrote in his note that investors were likely to “assume the worst — at the extreme, the possibility that Mr. Jobs will never return to Apple as full-time C.E.O.” And Mr. Wolf has always been a big supporter of Steve Jobs. Incredible.It is really hard to write about Steve Jobs and his health. Nobody wants to see another human being suffer a recurrence of cancer. Everybody — myself very much included — hopes that Mr. Jobs will get well and come back to work. I can even understand why he doesn’t want to disclose details about his medical problems to the world — it’s very distasteful, and Mr. Jobs also believes strong [sic] that it’s nobody’s business except his and his family’s.But he’s wrong. There are certain people who simply don’t have the same privacy rights as others, whether they like it or not. Presidents. Celebrities. Sports figures. And, at least in terms of his health, Steve Jobs. His health has become a material fact for Apple shareholders. His vagueness about his health, his dissembling, his constantly changing story line — it is simply not an appropriate way to act when you are the most important person at one of the most high-profile companies in America. On the contrary: it is infuriating.
Related: Apple's Culture of Secrecy (New York Times, 26 July 2008)