Health of Steve Jobs affects Apple Inc. and beyond

08:36, February 24, 2011      

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Steve Jobs is a legendary person whose vision has changed the way how computers and cell phones function, and his health certainly has impacts on Apple Inc. he founded and even beyond the computer world.

Jobs announced indefinite medical leave from Apple on January 17. Since then rumors about his health have been spreading.

Last week, the National Enquirer published photos of Jobs outside Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California. Reports said Jobs has been battling pancreatic cancer. Fears have been steadily growing over his health after he stepped away from the day-to-day running of Apple due to health reasons.

The National Enquirer quoted medical experts who claimed that, based on the photo images, they believed Jobs only had matter of weeks to live.

Jobs had a surgery in 2004 for an unusual type of tumor on his pancreas called a neuroendocrine tumor. He had a liver transplant in 2009.

Jobs and Apple have tried to keep the public from knowing the details of his health situation.

Joe Wilcox, a writer for website, wrote that Jobs' health situation isn't a private matter, and, frankly, it's even less so now.

"The seeming suddenness of Jobs' more recent medical leave, which this time is open-ended, raises reasonably disconcerting questions about how long he can continue as chief executive and whether Apple has in place an appropriate succession plan," wrote Wilcox.

According to Wilcox, as leader of a public company, Jobs has no inherent right to privacy where his ability to act as CEO is concerned. Jobs' share in Apple was well below 5 percent. He is not a principal owner of Apple, but tens of thousands of shareholders are.

Charles Elson, Director of the University of Delaware's Center for Corporate Governance, told Bloomberg in January that Apple has not met its responsibility to shareholders: "Much more disclosure is in order. I think the board really should come forward and let-- give--investors know more of what they know. Transparency in this situation is really valuable."

"The problem is that in this company, investors place a lot of stock in Jobs' presence, and in the past his presence or absence has caused some real gyrations in the stock price," said Elson.

Elson emphasized that when investors bought Apple shares they " expected full and fair disclosure of the company's fortunes. I think this would include something like this" -- the "this" referring to Jobs' medical leave.

Many shareholders want to know how sick Jobs really is, how likely he is to return and what is Apple's succession plan should he not return. Their investing in Apple and, in 2010, driving up shares to all-time highs and market capitalization over 300 million dollars, which is only second to Exxon, and it gives them the right to know.

Jobs' health has already impacted Apple's stock, which went down 6.6 percent since it hit an all-time high of 364.90 dollars a week ago, compared with a 2 percent dip of the Nasdaq during the same time period.

Jobs established Apple Computer, Inc. in 1976 in Cupertino, California and after 30 years he removed the word "computer" in 2007, to reflect the company's ongoing expansion into the consumer electronics market in addition to its traditional focus on personal computer.

He rescued the computer maker from near death in 1996 after a 12-year absence from the company he co-founded.

The launch of the iPhone, a smartphone with a touchscreen in 2007, and the iPad, a tablet computer in 2010, has made a fortune for Apple and helped lead the technology industry into new directions.

As of September 2010, Apple had 46,600 full time employees and 2,800 temporary full time employees worldwide and had worldwide annual sales of 65.23 billion dollars.

Jobs' health will also probably have an impact on the manufacturers in China. World Journal, a Chinese language newspaper published in the U.S., quoted sources from Taiwan as saying that Foxconn, a company based in Taiwan, has received an order from Apple to manufacturer Apple computers and iPhones in China totaling over 100 billion Yuan of RMB.

According to the paper, 46 million iPhones and about 15 million iPads were assembled in China last year.

The paper said the world IT industry has been following Apple in the past years and Taiwan has benefited a lot from Apple.

Source: Xinhua

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