The health of Apple CEO Steve Jobs is back in the headlines as the company co-founder admitted that he is continuing to struggle with a serious illness that plagued him throughout 2008.
Jobs was diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer in 2004, but even after the disease was successfully treated his physical appearance and performances at subsequent events led to much speculation about the actual state of his health. In mid-2008, some Apple shareholders expressed frustration over Jobs’ reticence to discuss his condition, due to the fact that Apple’s fortunes fluctuated very much in line with Jobs’. Later in the year, Jobs said that while his health issues were serious, he was not suffering from a recurrence of cancer.
But in mid-December Apple announced that the keynote address at the 2009 Macworld Conference would be delivered by Vice President of Marketing Philip Schiller and not Jobs, the first time in a decade that Jobs hasn’t given the address himself. In conjunction with his gaunt condition at the 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference in July, that predictably launched a new round of questions about his well-being.
In response, Jobs has issued a statement saying a “hormone imbalance” caused his weight to drop in 2008, and that while he is receiving treatment for the problem it will be several months before he is back to normal. “The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment,” he said. “But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it.”
Confirming that he will remain at the head of Apple, Jobs continued, “I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first. So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.”
Funny Footnote Time: A minor furor erupted in August 2008 after Bloomberg mistakenly published Jobs’ obituary. The report of his death was incomplete and obviously an error, but his apparently frail health at the time it was printed led to raised eyebrows and frantic Googling until it was retracted. Jobs himself did not comment on the matter, leaving unimaginative reporters with little option but to dredge up that tired old saw about Samuel Clemens.