OK, so now it gets serious. I've lost track of how many times I've been asked when/if Steve will step down as Apple's CEO. The answer is yes. Some day he will. Get ready for it. Perhaps that day has arrived.
It is instructive to observe that what is playing out in the media today is a very good example of how NOT talking/marketing can hurt you more than being transparent. It started with no news, just a photo of a thin Steve. People speculated. Rumors started. Stock dropped. No update.
Then Steve shared. "It is a simple fix." Some were relieved. More were skeptical. People worried. Stock teetered.
A week later Steve shocked. "It's not that simple. See you in the Spring." Now people are really worried, lawyers sharpen pencils, stock freefalls, TV analysts battle.
All this is a future HBS case study about how the world's best marketing company refused to market Steve's health or sickness effectively. People give Apple a long leash in hiding product information until they are ready to launch – there is something actually fun in being surprised.
But when it concerns the health of their enigmatic leader and King of Tech, any surprise is shocking. There is never a good time to ship sickness. I think Steve/Apple knows that, but wanted to separate the company from the man. But that is an impossible task even for Steve. So now Apple's credibility suffers just as the man physically does.
See, they are inseparable.
I sent Steve a personal note last night wishing him well and letting him know that the world is a better place because of his being in it. Let's put the marketing/business issues aside and say what we all feel:
Get well Steve. We already miss you.