Community reeling from news of Steve Jobs’ “medical leave of absence”

Granted, some aspects of these things did indeed take place right up until this week. There *is* a kernel of truth around which these ideas congeal; that said, most of these things are outdated notions which are rooted in the early days of Steve’s return to Apple when it was far more necessary to take a hands-on approach to steering the corporate ship.

In recent years, particularly since the 2001-2003 era, Jobs has been able to ease off somewhat and take a somewhat calmer, less intense approach to his role at Infinite Loop. Even in small, closed meetings at the Executive Suites, Steve is more of an everyday visionary leader and less of a whip-cracking taskmaster according to every source we’ve been able to talk to who is privvy to such matters.

Steve will always be Steve — that much is certain. Even sick and distracted from his normally laser-like focus on work, he has a level of vision and passion that can be seen in everything he does; he commands excellence, and over time, hardly needs to speak a word in order to encourage it in others. There are times when he still brings out the old fire & brimstone, but those times are fewer and farther between with each passing year we’re told.

So, while his absence will certainly impact Apple and the morale of its employees, we think that Cook and the rest of the team at the Executive Suites will have little trouble sustaining the momentum that Steve Jobs has created over the past twelve years.

One of the most exciting and remarkable periods of our own history here at Mac OS Rumors was in our second year; we were breaking more exclusive stories than ever before, and were just coming off the tremendous mainstream-media blitz which followed our successful, utterly exclusive, and accurate breaking of the rumor that Steve Jobs would soon take the captain’s chair from then-CEO Gil Amelio in a dramatic board room showdown.

We were in the midst of reporting on the development of the first version of Mac OS X, then called Rhapsody….and were posting sneak peeks into a new consumer Macintosh that would eventually become the iMac. Even with so much going on, our sources close to the Executive Suites were far more talkative about something completely non-technical — the incredible transformation that the company was undergoing, from within, at the hands of re-ascendant “iCEO” Jobs.

The results were soon seen as Rhapsody became Mac OS X, the iMac & iBook shipped, and the “Newton 2.0” shipped in the form of the iPod…..all seeds planted by Gil Amelio, but nurtured to their full flower by Steve Jobs.

The debate will no doubt continue, and some will no doubt say that the impact of Jobs’ absence can only be far greater than we predict; but we’ve been in the business of analyzing Apple from the inside for nearly 15 years now and if there is one thing we’re certain of, it is that the company has learned the lessons of those years well — they will not forget them now.

Such is the greatness that Steve has inspired in others; for that is his greatest talent and strength. His true, greatest value is not merely in his individual self…..but in what he brings out in the teams he leads. Now those teams must fly under their own power, but we are confident that they will do much more than merely continue as they have before; they will do things that they might not have been able to do in times any less uncertain or strangely inspiring.

Oddly enough, that is exactly what we have been hearing from some of our oldest and most highly placed sources at Infinite Loop; that despite the obvious reasons for concern, many there have found this to be a challenge that they are inspired to rise to meet. And meet it they will….in ways, we predict, that will surprise us all.

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  • Matt

    I wish Steve all the best and a speedy recovery – and love him or hate him – I respect and admire all that he has done for Apple and the computer industry in general.

    I hope that soon the industry will judge Apple’s products based on the merits of those products and not on how well or poorly one man presents them to a crowd of people.

    Here’s hoping that Apple can continue to lead and innovate with or without Steve at the helm in the future. Though I would like to see him make a full recovery and a glorious comeback – get well Steve.

  • admin

    We couldn’t agree more.

    All of this analysis is certainly one way for sites like ours to get traffic, but frankly, we’ve resisted the temptation to talk about it every day for an “easy article.” Or three, as some sites seem to have elected to go.

    We don’t mean to disrespect or disparage anyone for going that way, certainly not anyone in particular; as many readers know, this site has certainly had its own share of leadership illness dramas. It certainly impacted our work; one can hardly blame Steve Jobs for wanting to focus on that with the hope of returning for the long haul rather than running himself into the ground for good.

    This certainly won’t be the last time we talk about this, but this site was always more about the technology and the potential of the platform — not about the personal dramas of the company.

    Granted, we were the ones who — amidst scoffing and extreme skepticism from all quarters — originally broke the news that Steve was retaking the CEO position in an aggressive move against Gil Amelio with all kinds of historic board-room drama….almost nobody seemed to believe us for the 24 hours between our posting, based on sources we still have to this day, and the announcement of exactly that from Apple itself.

    This was one of the first times something like this happened in such clear-cut, dramatic fashion….and it got a lot of attention, as many readers probably remember. Since then, we’ve had the rare opportunity to have two levels of insight into the role of Jobs at the Loop; one, from people we know in Cupertino.

    The other was the terrifying illnesses that struck our founder and no less than three other key members of the site team between 2000 and 2008. One of those was a member of the infamous “Bothans,” our highest placed sources who on occasion have risked quite a bit to bring us the information that makes this all possible — a former source turned site contributor, known only to the public as ‘Tron.’

    Tron still bears deep scars from his brush with death, something that he also is rather private about. He will most likely be in considerable pain for the rest of his life but has managed to achieve tremendous coping skills without any help from doctors. The other two site team members are no longer working with Xerces Media; one passed away in early 2008 and the other is still fighting for his life in a hospital in Israel as we speak. Ironically enough, Pancreatic cancers and pancreas-related illness have touched the life of that member as well as several others including the mother of our founder who underwent a pancreatic surgery not unlike Steve Jobs’ own.

    Blessedly, Ryan Meader is back at Xerces and continues to be the person who does the bulk of our source-relations work as well as a lot of the editing workload though that is still a task we seek to divide amongst the team rather than make dependent on any one man or woman as it has been in times past.

    We don’t want to delve too far into a site news post here…..we just wanted to point out that we understand Steve’s struggles on far too many levels, wish him well, and have a lot of things planned for the future — just as we know Apple does, too. Remarkable ones, to say the least!