In a rare move Apple CEO Steve Jobs commented publicly on his health over the weekend to say that he doesnit have cancer, and that his well being is a private matter despite what the media says. Mr. Jobs shared his personal health secrets with Joe Nocera of The New York Times where he confirmed that he had been dealing with something more serious than the "common bug" Apple originally reported, and that he is not suffering from a life-threatening illness.
Public concerns over Mr. Jobsis health increased after The New York Post claimed "many" people were worried about his current condition. The article was published on the same day that Apple held its third quarter earnings report conference call, and Lehman Brothers analyst Ben Reitzes asked the company to comment on the article and Mr. Jobsis health.
Apple COO Tim Cook responded "Ben, Steve loves Apple. [Mr. Jobs] serves at the CEO at the pleasure of Appleis board and has no plans to leave Apple. Steveis health is a private matter."
Those health worries, coupled with Appleis secrecy, may have played a part in the companyis sharp drop in stock value later in the day.
Mr. Jobs didnit seem pleased with the extra focus on his health status, and wasnit exactly congenial when he called Mr. Nocera. Their phone conversation started with Mr. Jobs saying "You think Iim an arrogant [expletive] who thinks heis above the law, and I think youire a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong."
Despite his attitude, concerned investors finally got the information they were looking for. The way they received it, however, may not have left them happy. Instead of addressing investors directly, Mr. Jobs released the information through a journalist under an agreement that kept almost all of their conversation off the record.
Mr. Jobs isnit the first public figure to keep health issues from the public. U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for example, went to great lengths to hide his ailments.
Right or wrong, the odds of Mr. Jobs breaking from his history of keeping his personal life private are very slim, which means that public concern over his health isnit likely to subside any time soon.