They weren't offering a job, but when Apple board members discussed CEO succession with the head of a "high profile technology company," as the Wall Street Journal reported, they surely knew they were planting a seductive thought: "I could replace the most famous business executive in the world."

Board members have been informally exploring what options they have for replacing Jobs, the Journal said, including in talks with the mystery tech CEO, with executive recruiters, and in private board sessions. Everyone in those sessions is sworn to secrecy, which might explain why the paper went ahead with its story even though Jobs, who is still on medical leave, emailed it to say "I think it's hog wash"— as a matter of board policy the CEO is out of the loop on what directors do independently. Meanwhile a "person familiar with the company" and with the board's private meetings is quoted acknowledging the board could "decide the CEO should not be the CEO anymore." It sounds like someone is trying to send Steve Jobs a message. They should probably brace themselves for the response.

[Photo via Getty Images]