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:
Today Steve tried to stop making his health become news and made news. Not so much that he shared what he now knows about his alarming weight loss but rather he issued a public letter about his personal condition.
This is blogging 101: sharing your personal thoughts and feelings about something you feel will be interesting to others.
Steve, congrats on the fact that your health should soon be a non-issue and kudos for opening up. Now witness what this type of regular communication can do (in the form of the free publicity you derived today) for Apple and its future leaders.
And now, some Apple levity, thanks to the fine folks at the Onion:
Okay, so people are having a field day with Steve's no-show for this Macworld, the last for Apple. Does it mean Steve is transitioning out of the company (yes, he has been for 16 months now) or that Apple has no new products to introduce (they do, and they will surprise you) or that Steve is dying (we all are)
I enjoyed this article - written by an ex-Appleite like me - who can attest to the pressure and challenges that working at Apple affords and rewards. A Fortune column thinks that Phil's "one more thing" will actually be Steve himself. Both need to remind Steve to open up, as my previous post implores.
But if you've listened closely to Steve in the last 3 Macworld keynotes you'll hear him tell you the real reason why Apple doesn't need Macworld anymore. The Apple Stores. More potential customers (and not the Apple faithful who attend MacWorld) were introduced to a Mac than attend 12 Macworlds. That's a Macworld every month. And that was 3 years ago.
Today with the Apple Stores, their website and their fantastic marketingApple can create the type of buzz it needs while it generates the sell-through required to succeed. And that several million dollar payment to IDG for Macworld can go into developing even better new products or marketing more effectively the ones they have now.