Steve Jobs has just taken a very unusual step to quash the flurry of Internet rumors surrounding his health, many of which were prompted by his decision not to make the traditional Apple keynote speech at MacWorld this year. In a public statement Jobs has admitted he is in fact ill—the reason behind his visible weight-loss over the year—but that doctors have sourced the problem to a hormone imbalance, which is relatively easy to fix. He is not dying.
Worth noting, however, that Apple's original spin was that the decision was about internal politics rather than internal medicine. While the vast majority of media outlets toed the official PR line, scrappy old Gizmodo stuck with its story, which turns out to have been correct.
Here's the full text:
Letter From Apple CEO Steve Jobs
"Dear Apple Community,
For the first time in a decade, I'm getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.
Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.
I've decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.
As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.
Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been "robbing" me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.
The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment. But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple's CEO during my recovery.
I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple's CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.
So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.
Underlining Job's point, and illustrating that he has the support of the Board, they themselves issued a separate statement:
Statement by Apple's Board of Directors
"CUPERTINO, Calif., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — It is widely recognized both inside and outside of Apple that Steve Jobs is one of the most talented and effective CEOs in the world.
As we have said before, if there ever comes a day when Steve wants to retire or for other reasons cannot continue to fulfill his duties as Apple's CEO, you will know it.
Apple is very lucky to have Steve as its leader and CEO, and he deserves our complete and unwavering support during his recuperation. He most certainly has that from Apple and its Board."
That undoubtedly sets the record straight about Steve's illness, and demonstrates the cohesion of Apple's Board. There's still a tantalising snippet in there about what may happen in the future if Steve needs to or chooses to depart, but that's completely and utterly to be expected as part of normal business.