Sure, Apple's stock would have survived if he'd skipped out. But, as we wrote earlier today, it would have taken a hit. Many investors would have seen Jobs' absence as a conspicuous, out-of-character dodge by a leader known for his obsession with control and an amazing ability to extract money from worshipful customers via direct appeals. We were right to question the expectation that Jobs wouldn't show up; wrong to write that it was only a "remote" possibility.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that, as much as he hates providing information about his health, Jobs would rather calm Wall Street with a public appearance than spend months answering especially heated questions about his health, which would certainly have happened if he hadn't walked onto that Moscone Convention Center stage.
Now, of course, comes the endless analysis of how Jobs looked and sounded. We might as well get things started; above and below are Getty pictures of Jobs at this year's iPod event, on the left, next to pictures from last year's event, on the right. (Full-sized originals are here and here.) The CEO seems to have neither lost — nor added — much weight. But given the once-declining state of Jobs' health, no news is probably good news.