By David Berman
It is little wonder than observers have been parsing Monday’s memo from Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs, the chief executive officer of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), told employees that he would be taking another medical leave, prompting all sorts of concerns about the reasons.
Mr. Jobs is a pancreatic cancer survivor who took a medical leave two years ago, during which time he had a liver transplant. But Henry Blodget argued on Business Insider that a key phrase in Monday’s memo – “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can” – strikes a very different tone than the memo that accompanied that earlier leave in 2009.
“In our opinion, those are not the words of someone taking a short leave who is confident he will be back at the company soon (or ever),” wrote Mr. Bodget, a former technology analyst. “Rather, in our opinion, they read like the tragic, heartfelt sentiments of someone who thinks he might never be coming back.
“Importantly, last time Steve wrote a memo to Apple staff about taking a medical leave, his tone and wording were quite different. Then, he said he would be gone “until June” and said he “look[ed] forward to seeing all of you this summer.”
Certainly, observers have been wrong about Mr. Jobs plenty of times before, prompting him to walk onstage at an iPod launch in 2008 using the line, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” as his backdrop. As well, while it may be useful to examine every comma and word in, say, a monetary policy statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, it is unlikely that Mr. Jobs means to impart a whole lot of information in his internal memos.
If anything, he has been known to obfuscate, blaming dramatic weight loss in 2008 on a “common bug.”
Still, if the U.S. stock market were open on Monday (it is closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day), it is likely that Apple’s share price would be reflecting concerns from investors.