Steve Jobs is BACK! Oh, he's just stone cold striding into the office, high-fiving people, running marathon meetings, screaming his as... err, wait, actually, did we say "back?" More like backish. The official word:
"Steve Jobs is back to work," chief spokesperson Steve Dowling told CNN. "He is at Apple a few days a week and working from home the other days. We're glad to have him back."
A few days a week? Kind of vague, no? And then working from home, because it's not like Steve Jobs likes to micromanage, or just turn up at people's offices unannounced or roam the halls.
Just to recap the official line on Jobs' health, over time:
- First he had a "common bug" and no one should be worried;
- Then it wasn't that bad and Steve wasn't going anywhere;
- Despite his appearance, Jobs' health wasn't keeping him from doing his job;
- Fixing the health issue would be "simple and straightforward" and Jobs atill wasn't going anywhere;
- Jobs was taking medical leave, partly because all the talk about his health was a "distraction."
- Jobs had a liver transplant and his prognosis was uncertain, but Apple wouldn't acknowledge it.
Now Jobs is back at work, sorta. While no one will begrudge the cancer survivor a part-time schedule while he recovers, no Apple investors except a select few have a sense of what is known and not known about Jobs' health; how encouraging his prognosis is or precisely what risks the next six months carry. Some uncertainty is unavoidable when it comes to human health; but Apple's handling of Jobs' health just creates unnecessary uncertainty for both investors and employees who have more productive things to worry about.
Given Apple's track record, the sanest response for anyone who has to make a decision involving the company or its stock is to assume the official talk of Jobs' return is immaterial (read: untrustworthy) and that Tim Cook is in charge.