The Internet went crazy today with more rumors and questionable reports about Steve Jobs' health. Let me start out by saying that I really don't like writing stories which solely focus on anyone's health. For the most part I've avoided it, except when trying to help debunk ridiculous rumors (yes, almost always about Jobs), or mentioning it in passing. But today I took a little bit different approach -- and I thought I should explain.
First off, some people were outraged with my headline on VentureBeat, 'Local yogurt store tells blogger that Steve Jobs is “in great health”.' Some thought it was too much like a spoof, some found is distasteful, some just thought it was stupid. Here's the deal, yes, I intended it to be goofy -- it was almost much more goofy, believe me.
My reasoning for doing that -- and for writing the whole story itself -- is really that this whole thing with Jobs' health has gotten out of hand. When I saw on FriendFeed that Scoble talked to someone who had actually seen -- as in with their own eyes -- Jobs recently, and that he looked healthy to them, at first I thought that was ridiculous -- but then I stopped -- why is that anymore ridiculous than any of the other speculation and half reports going around the Internet about the topic? If anything, it's much less ridiculous. So I wrote it.
And that's why I gave it the spoof title -- it's just as much a commentary about the whole situation, as it is about the actual story involved (which yes, was kind of silly). Sorry if that went over some people's heads.
My actual feelings on all of this are pretty much in line with CNBC's Jim Goldman, who, as far as I can tell remains the only one (besides Scoble in the yogurt store) doing any real reporting on this topic day in and day out. I recommend you read his second story on the topic today, in which he basically goes off on people for irresponible reporting on this issue.
Now, the Gizmodo rumor may be all true, somewhat true or not at all true. But that's the problem -- these same types of stories are getting thrown around on a weekly basis now citing either no one or one anonymous source. It's affecting Apple's stock price and creating a kind of hysteria. If Jobs really is sick -- as in so sick that he can no longer run Apple -- Apple would absolutely have to disclose it. And as Goldman says, they know it. They would get in a lot of trouble if they did not do that. They are not idiots, it would come out eventually.
So until Apple does disclose anything about Jobs' health, why speculate on it? This is a human being after all, one who is still alive and has a family. The Times (which also didn't get my humor in the headline apparently) says this is akin to the hoopla surrounding Princess Diana when she was still alive. That's probably not such a ridiculous claim.
Has Apple been misleading on this topic in the past? You could argue that -- but you could also argue the other way. One of those times didn't involve a life-threatening illness, so what difference does that really make -- and the other time, Apple consulted lawyers to see if it would have to disclose that Jobs had cancer (before he had surgery to remove his tumor), the lawyers determined they would not have to disclose it, so they did not.
Could Steve Jobs pass away tomorrow? Sure, but really we could all die tomorrow. The key is if Apple knows he's going to pass away soon. And seeing as they haven't said that, I have to believe they don't know what, and that Jobs is fine.
Will that end the speculation? Of course not, and that's why I'm hoping for a Jobs cameo at Macworld -- even if it's just by way of video iChat with Phil Schiller -- to give a big "fuck you" to all those out there speculating about him being near death.
Wouldn't that just be a classic "one more thing..."?