Steve Jobs leave of absence from Apple

January 17, 2011

I've just read on Reuters that

"Steve Jobs says Apple board grants him medical leave of absence; shares drop 4.5 percent"

That’s one hell of a drop in share price. Does one man really hold that much power within a business that he influences the value of the company to that degree?

I suppose the same could be said for Bill Gates when he left Microsoft and it seems they’ve lost their way in the last few years.

Is this another blow for Apple? Are they losing support with their users? There will always be the fanbois that evangelise the products but in recent months Apple has dropped the XServe and the iPhone 4 was a bit of a PR disaster by failing in its primary task (making phone calls) but people still purchased it. 

Granted the iPad was a huge success and solved a problem that people didn’t think they had. To be fair, the iPad opened users eyes to the fact there were other ways to consume data and that all started with the iPhone.  Microsoft tried for ages to gets tablet PCs off the ground but failed; largely the result of an unsuitable interface.

But will Apple recover from this?  I’m sure it will because more people are aware of Apple as a brand rather than Steve Jobs as its leader.  And at the end of the day the business makes money by selling products. When Gates left Microsoft the share price dropped but recovered however, its reputation is still damaged by disaster of Vista and the hash up it’s made of its storage mechanism (NTFS).

I suppose the long term question is can someone still invoke the same vision at Apple that Steve Jobs has if he leaves for good? After all, Steve Ballmer hasn’t exactly filled Mr Gates’ shoes.

Interestingly Jobs has said

"I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy,"

So there's every chance he'll be back.