When the Wall Street Journal broke the news about Steve Jobs’ liver transplant this morning, it will have been a surprise for many Apple fans. We were told in January that Jobs was taking six months off to “Focus on (his) health” and deal with a hormonal imbalance that was causing him digestive problems. Although there were rumours that he was undergoing surgery many disregarded them as unhelpful gossip.
If the WSJ’s report is true, Jobs was a lot more ill than many had believed. Whether his condition is a result of the hormonal imbalance we were told about at the start of the year or some kind of relapse of the cancer he beat five years ago is currently unclear. It’s highly likely we won’t know the truth for a long while yet. Apple has fiercely guarded Jobs’ privacy on the subject of his health and there’s no reason for that to change now.
What we’re told is that Jobs is set to return to Apple within weeks, albeit part-time at first. So, what does this mean for Apple, its loyal fans and for Jobs himself?
For Apple, it means the return of the man who rescued the company from the brink of collapse when he returned to the company in 1997. His reportedly vice-like grip on all aspects of Apple meant the publicly held corporation was marching to the beat of his drum, and his alone. He oversaw the launch of the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, three devices that changed their respective markets forever.
While Apple has continued to be successful in recent months, weathering the storm of a poor economy surprisingly well for a premium brand, many industry watchers speculate that without that unique guiding vision Apple will start to slip eventually.
For many Apple fans it means the return of their messiah-like hero. His almost flawless approach to business, his unrivaled showmanship that turned the product launches into a must-see event, not to mention his iconic jeans-and-a-turtleneck image, have turned him into computing’s number one rockstar. Fans will be happy to see him return; an Apple without Jobs loses some of its ‘magic’. That said, many will be bound to worry that he’s pushing himself too hard.
For Jobs himself, that ‘pushing too hard’ will likely concern those around him. It’s unlikely that many doctors would say it was a good idea to continue as CEO of a huge international corporation after suffering a bout of cancer and undergoing a liver transplant within five years. Starting back in the job part time is all well and good, but with his medical history returning to a full-time role might not be a good idea. With his vast wealth, an early retirement and a relaxing life of comfort in the California sunshine must surely be tempting.
You can’t go on as a dynamo of revolutionary energy forever. With his part time return and rumours that Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, is being lined up as Jobs’ successor, that new life might not be too far away.
[Image credit: Acaben, cropped by Kyro]