Warning Signs from Steve

by Joshua Scott Emmons

A lot of really great technology was announced yesterday at the WWDC keynote. The Mac Pro — a guaranteed hit that's on sale now — is sure to boost Apple's third quarter numbers. What we were shown of Leopard indicates that Apple has not been resting on its laurels and has continued to innovate beyond the wildest expectations of Vista's fans.

And yet, at the time of this writing, Apple's stock price is still hovering at around $66/share — down $0.80 for the day and a far cry from where it was before AAPL's Friday beating. Wallstreet seems to believe Apple's stock option snafu outweighs any announcements coming out of this year's WWDC. Could they know something we don't? I'm no stock broker, and lord knows if I claimed the street was being unfairly cynical towards Apple, I wouldn't be the first. But Apple's stock price isn't the only thing sweating under the pressure of the stock option investigation. Steve is too.

42 Comments

Mike
2006-08-08 12:52:33
Interesting conjecture, however, I am afraid the truth right there in your words. His surgery. Steve did not look like a healthy man yesterday.
Rainy Day
2006-08-08 12:53:32
Two problems with your analysis: First off, this tag-team approach was announced months ago in an eMail to developers. That eMail predates the options "scandal."


Secondly, it is very unlikely that Steve is anything more than peripherally involved in the options affair. Apple executive compensation is administered by the compensation committee, which is controlled by those Board members who are outside of Apple. The "internal" investigation is likewise being conducted by an outside committee and reporting to the outside directors. Everything is at arm's reach for Jobs, so he's in a pretty safe position. Extremely unlikely he has anything to worry about.


The SEC has not said they are investigating Apple at this time. Apple brought these irregularities to light and reported them to the SEC, not a whistle-blower. This is all likely to blow over.

Mike C
2006-08-08 12:58:48
I see now that I wasn't the only one who noticed the weirdness of it all. I also noticed Steve wasn't looking so well; he just seemed thinner than I remember. Overall, it was an odd keynote to watch, it just didn't feel right. I kept thinking that it looks like Forstall might be the one to take over in the future, but he just doesn't have Steve's charisma. Maybe, in time he'll develop a more confident style on stage, but he just 'aint Steve.
Marcus
2006-08-08 12:59:30
I don't think that there is too much to read into regarding the stock price. Wall Street was expecting something more than new Mac Pros, and since there wasn't an 'and one more thing...' moment, they were dissappointed.


At least, that's my take.

CycoMacHead
2006-08-08 13:05:02
I noticed some of these things too
Maybe a successor to CEO, although- that's where I wanted to come in (well in 14 years (if Steve retires then)(I'll be 27)
but maybe Scott will be doing future keynotes- he did a lot of great work
And Steve really pretty much did demos of the products and when he did speak, the numbers were on the screen


i hope it isn't something to serious, and hopefully not his health
Something could have happened only a few days earlier, maybe a family issue
Who knows Although I really doubt it is dealing w/ an iPod thing and such - unless it would be having to remove the iPod line cuz of a secret law suite (but how likely is that)

CycoMacHead
2006-08-08 13:07:18
Mike C, yeah I agree


Also regarding stocks- they always seem to go low after a keynote speech
after MWSF this year stocks were way down

Adam Turetzky
2006-08-08 13:11:14
Steve Jobs has read from a demo script for almost every keynote he's done over the last three years. Just go look at the old iTunes and iChat demos (or better still the GarageBand demo). He's got an entire pile of notes next to him that he's reading from. It's also why numerous times during other keynotes he would be constantly adjusting his glasses.


Give the guy a break. He survived the most deadliest kind of cancer last year and we the fans have made way too much out of these keynotes. They can't hit us a home run 3 times a year and leave us stunned everytime. He announced the MacPro and showed off Leopard. Neither is all that exciting. What's he supposed to do? Dance?


People need to stop pondering what miracles Apple will release before each keynote, we're giving ourselves a case of the post-keynote letdowns. It's our fault, not Apples.

Stuart
2006-08-08 13:12:59
Steve has regularly used notes during keynotes, I can remember previous occasions when he has taken off his glasses to read the notes, so this is not at all unusual. It's also perfectly normal for him to have other people on stage making announcements, particularly at WWDC.


Yes, he was looking under the weather, but I think this article is reading far too much into too little information.

Paul
2006-08-08 13:36:53
I've seen other keynotes and Steve does use notes at the side of the keyboard on the 'demo-desk' - - so move along - nothing to see there...


also - the tag-team approach was probably a great way of introducing and letting the other members of senior staff take a little limelight, its a developers conference - so we want to hear from the head of developement dont we?...

Chris Adamson
2006-08-08 13:46:22
Wasn't it also Steve who said that a board's job is to fire the CEO?
JulesLt
2006-08-08 13:57:22
At a guess, I'd go with Option A. The 'Secret' features are ones that should have been ready to demo but missed the deadline, and we all know that Apple wouldn't talk up a feature they couldn't show. On the other hand, they'd have known what was in there at least a week if not month before.


Other VPs : At some point, Steve has to have an exit strategy. It's bad for Apple if Apple=Steve Jobs, so getting some other faces out there and known is a good thing. This is what Microsoft did with Gates, and that was something like a 7 year plan. Touch wood, Steve has a long time left to live, but it's possible his doctor's have told him he won't see Vista ship.
It may also mark the start of the transition of the WWDC to a developers conference rather than it doubling up as a PR event for product launches.


My guess : Illness and stress. He's trying to merge Pixar and Disney (merging companies is never pleasant - and consider these two firms were about to divorce before they married). There are a whole load of different market challenges facing Apple, beyond Leopard - the threats to the iPod business from different directions, the film companies playing hardball (which they will until p2p sharing pushes them in Apple's direction), supplier control issues.


No one more thing. That suggests either they're not doing it because people are always expecting it, or the one more thing wasn't ready.

Dan
2006-08-08 14:11:40
The author of this column is a conspiracy nut.


You know Forstall was reading from notes when he was giving his demos, so I guess that means he's dying to. Schiller introduced the Mac Pro and not Steve, so that must mean he's taking over when Steve croaks. Wow, this is fun! Let's make up more stories!!

Andy
2006-08-08 14:12:00
...and in other news, 2 + 2 = 5
AJ
2006-08-08 14:31:18
I hope I'm wrong, but I agree with Mike, and the other commenters, that Steve didn't look too well yesterday. He looked thin, and tired. From the outset, the question that went through my mind was "Is Steve okay?"
Joey
2006-08-08 14:47:10
Overall I think the keynote was a little disappointing. The 3 VPs were all very poor presenters.
Schiller was nervous as hell and he kept getting performance and power mixed up when trying to describe the power/wattage usage on the new Xeons.


Serlet needs to work on his timing - his punchlines were not in sync with the slides - and I think the MS bashing was just boring, surely the VP of software engineering should talk about......well software.


Forstall wasnt impressive either. I'm not a big fan of Marketing folks in general but he seemed a little too arrogant and got flustered when his "time machine" forgot to go back to the future. None of these people have any charisma when compared to Jobs.


If this is the best Apple have to offer as replacements when Jobs eventually goes then we may be witnessing a "copycat" of what has happened to MS over the last 5 years (Gates may have formaly announced his intention to step down in two years but everyone knows he has been moving further and further away from day to day operations since he relinquished CEO to Ballmer) - the line of managers behind the CEO are just not up to the job of replacing their boss.


Overall I thought it was a little disappointing.

Guillaume
2006-08-08 16:25:34
I think too that Steve Jobs didnot look very well. He seems to be skinny and tired, but I also noticed he limped a little, not sure, but several times when he went back to his desk, the walk was not 100% fluent.
Regarding Bertrand Serlet, I think it is almost a shame for French people (I'm French). Have you seen this ugly accent ?? Even a english beginner here has a better one. He makes simply no effort to speak with a proper accent. Clearly, he didnot get this position due to his english ability.
Chris O'Hare
2006-08-08 16:29:24
Way over the top conspiracy theory. Steve did have surgery, he did look tired. He's not dead yet! It makes perfect sense to me to audition his successors at a Developer's Conference-- the audience is the most professional, friendly, and (I thought) least likely to make a big deal out of it. Did you notice when iPhoto locked up, live? No one freaked out. Glad it was just at the DevCon.


We all know that he's been having problems with the video download contracts and the touchscreen iPods. When those ducks are lined up, those will be the next "one more thing".


"Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated!" - some guy

Dru
2006-08-08 16:44:43
Joshua, you stated that "Even more eerie is that Steve, himself, did not announce any new products this keynote."


I just watched the keynote...Steve introduced Spaces. That's a new one, right?

Makkisan
2006-08-08 17:40:20
I cannot claim to know very much about the options issue so i cannot comment on that part. However it seemed ver odd to me that at the biggest Appe event of the year that Steve takes a seat on the sidelines. I also was thinking Steve was not looking to well. He seemed to be thin and i just hope and pray that it is not his health acting up again.
Joshua Emmons
2006-08-08 18:05:03
Dru,


You're absolutely right, I overlooked Spaces. Thanks for the correction!

Drew
2006-08-08 18:41:39
I have it on good authority that Steve has basically been on holiday for the last 2 months, which would explain the fact that he had help in this keynote.


In other words, a more likely explanation is that Steve is taking it a bit easier these days, and is probably more healthy and relaxed.


As for the notes, Steve always uses them for demos. No change there.



todd
2006-08-08 18:43:05
glad to realize i'm not the only one that thought steve wasn't looking well. i've been watching for years and the annoucements are no big surprise nor a let down, it's the wwdc. i was shocked by steve's appearance.
Johnny
2006-08-08 19:13:39
I think you need to go back and review Steve's other keynote appearances. He normally uses notes, I've seen them on his demo unit many times.


Johnny

Dave
2006-08-08 20:39:35
I think pretty much all of your theories have been shot down.


Most reputable analysts (with no axe to grind) think there is no culpability for Jobs- the options he received were canceled back in 2003- hell, the laws were different back then anyway. But, that stuff was all done by outside boards anyway. Be thankful that they are being so upfront about it, and not trying to cover anything up.


What's the point of all this? Yeah, he looks like he's lost some weight, but is otherwise healthy- maybe he's taken up running??


People need to realize Steve has only given us a taste of Leopard- scratched the surface. He IS being more secretive publicly, because he has a real chance of blowing Vista away, feature for feature, when both OS's are released. He's never been in a situation before where, if only symbolically, he's in a race with MS, due to the confluence of release dates... Apple has an unprecedented, golden opportunity to show the world what they can do. What's unique about this situation is that THE WHOLE WORLD seems to be comparing OS X and Vista now... this has been building and gathering momentum for the last six months or so, and now this "competition" is all over the media, all the time. That's never happened before. So, he is going about all of this very carefully. I am quite sure he knows what he's doing.


You know, what's really "eerie" is that this smells an awful lot like FUD.

calisurf
2006-08-08 21:56:42
I have attended WWDC events for the past 10 years and there was not a single thing that seemed out of place.


1. Steve always, always has notes. Both when he is preparing and during the speech.
2. WWDC is always a tag team event. Steve has always passed the torch to other to speak about specific products. This is quite normal. Especially because developers don't want to hear marketing, they want to hear how Core Animation is going to help them in their applications? Do you remember the bake-offs? This is all normal.


3. Is Steve tired? I don't know? is he sick? I hope not.



Other than not having "one more thing" this was business as usual for a WWDC. Also, if you attend these events annually you know that most of the good info about what is coming can be learned over a beer at a pub. And most of the cool stuff isn't even mentioned...read DTRACE has been ported to Leopard...truly awesome.


Give it a rest already.

Don
2006-08-09 00:17:47
For all of you know-it-alls, why don't you first talk to an oncologist who knows that pancreatic cancer of any type is just plain bad news. The fact that he has survived this long (has it been two years now?) is good news but you better look at some cancer statistics first before you make comments such as "maybe he took up running". Yeah right. People in the Valley know that Steve years ago used to play racquetball with Larry Ellison of Oracle. Looking gaunt-like and thin (the way he did -- and of course one way to try and hide how thin you look is to grow a beard which he has done) after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (e.g., the pancrease plays a huge role in the digestive system) is just not good plain and simple. The last thing anyone wants to have happen is for Steve not to make it but there is this thing called life and life is not always fair. Quite frankly, it seems almost miraculous that he could be a Director of two companies at the same time (Apple and Pixar). I can't imagine the stress that puts on a person (and stress for long periods of time probably burdens the immune system, and a burdened immune system probably plays a role in the development of some type of cancers). It is plausible that Steve might not be beating his cancer and being on vacation is a perhaps another way of saying that he needs time to be treated with something like chemotherapy which itself has serious side effects that can knock a person flat. But let's hope for the best.
Food For Thought
2006-08-09 03:39:43
Try reading this former Apple director of Federal sales blog about the kiss up culture at Apple for some insights.


http://viewfromthemountain.typepad.com/applepeels/


Yes, that kind of thing is rather commonplace in many corporations but it probably takes on a larger meaning at a legendary company like Apple. And if you ever read Apple Confidential, it is clear just how dysfunctional management and the executive rank was since the early days and according to this ex-director, vestiges of that still remains (but in a much tighter inner circle).


Furthermore, it makes you wonder about Nancy Heinen's (general counsel) sudden and silent departure back in May. This Wall Street Journal article a few weeks after seems interesting in light of the recent options issue, especially the unnamed source who mentioned "Something big must be happening".


http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/05/12/apples-general-counsel-nancy-heinens-gone-hiking/


It seems like this options thing has plenty to do with that. Options at Pixar is also coming under scrutiny and since it is well known how much of a micromanager Steve Jobs is, the implications in this could be huge. Remember, Berney Ebbers of Worldcom got shot down with his "Aw Shucks" I plead ignorance defense since bottomline, he was CEO of the company and therefore, remiss in his fiduciary responsibilities. And being known to have his hands in every part of the business didn't help his case either so you better believe that some of this stuff has also been weighing on Jobs and why it shows on his physical appearance.

Jono
2006-08-09 04:46:52
I think you are just plain wrong. Steve has, in my viewing of his presentations, always referred to notes on the desk when he does demo's. Not sure if he uses them, but Schiller certainly had autocue running for his bit.


If he looks thin its because he's been working hard. What Apple has achieved in a few short years, or even months, is just phenomenal. This period will go down in history I reckon.

Concerned GUy
2006-08-09 06:58:36
The options thing is just a blip, no biggie. There are other things entering into the picture now.
JoBu
2006-08-09 07:45:40
This is one of the worst fanboy posts I have ever seen. You are trying to create panic where there is none.


You know nothing about AAPL stock so don't speculate. The same run up happened before MacWorld as well.


To say Steve Jobs and Apple didn't make the keynote a priority is ludicrous. Steve has used notes before. It is 100% necessary in doing a demo. He used it at MacWorld 06 for the GarageBand podcasting demo.


Apple will not tip their hat to Microsoft.

Sean Warburton
2006-08-09 08:32:37
I thought Steve was diagnosed with a benign form of tumor so why would he be having any form of chemotherapy?


I'll admit that he didn't seem himself, his presentation lacked fire which is unlike him but who knows the reason.

Shawn King
2006-08-09 13:21:15
"I saw something I've never seen before at this year's WWDC keynote. Steve, any time he sat down to give a demo, was actually reading prompts off a piece of paper next to his keyboard."


If that's the case, then you haven't been paying attention. Jobs has *always* used "crib sheets" at ever keynote I've seen him do - and I've seen him do keynotes all around the world.


This isn't news - nothing to see, move along folks.....

Zeke
2006-08-09 21:10:06
Steve looked fine to me ... and he didn't consult his notes any more than usual either.


Bertrand Serlet was the big surprise ... Steve must have held a gun to his head to make him do that "MS copies us" routine. That's so out of character; if his presentation seemed stilted, it was probably because he was uncomfortable with the material he was given.


I thought that for a rookie Scott Forestall did well. He recovered smoothly from the iPhoto crash , so I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him.


PS: For every pound Jobs lost, Schiller gained three. I don't think he was nervous, so much as just hot and sweaty under the lights.

John Faughnan
2006-08-10 16:36:43
As to the comments on Jobs tumor, he had an islet cell tumor. That's a rare tumor. See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000393.htm


It is still a worse than average malignancy, but it is not as bad as the common form of pancreatic cancer.


We should hope any lack of vigor is related to the demands of his work; let's not presume the worst.



Stefan Seiz
2006-08-10 16:39:26
I believe it could be a much more simple answer: This man had cancer and cancer doesn't usualy just go away. Who tells you that he is fully recovered? Did you realize how skinny he looked? I did and i was right there on the spot in Moscone.
daniel goyette
2006-08-11 07:25:58
Steve look a little bit sick at the keynote , lack of energy , optimist lower than usual too.
Just think it is normal but if he don t have beat cancer all the way may be he give us the best he can.
It will be the best effort a man can do if fatal illness strike you , a thing to remember for apple.


JUST HOPE IT IS A BAD DREAM ......

JB
2006-08-11 08:40:25
I thought he looked thin and delicate. I, too, have concerns about health. I hope that we're all just paranoid.
Craig
2006-08-11 09:13:47
I think it's really nuts how everyone is freaking out about this. First of all, Steve looked fine to me, and he is in better physical shape than most Americans. Maybe we're all so fat that a fit person looks "ill". Seriously, he looked like someone who is in excellent shape. He has gotten thinner over the last few years, but that's good -- he was a little pudgy a while back. If anything, Schiller could use a diet -- he's got even more of the cuddly teddy bear look than Woz!


About the scripts, that's nothing new. Steve has used these many times in his keynotes, along with the other folks in the show (Scott Forstall was also using them, and flipping pages before/after Steve). These are not speaking scripts, but rather demo scripts, which are quite common for software demos. They really help to make sure you don't forget a step, or veer off course. Software demos can go wildly wrong, and scripts are a good way to keep them going on the right track.


Remember, this is a developer conference. While Steve holds a lot of cachet as the CEO and is an industry legend, it makes sense to get other folks from Apple up there on stage out in front of the developers, especially executives with a developer and/or OS-related job. Steve will be the first to admit (and he has in past keynotes) that he doesn't understand all of the developer speak.

Rex Riley
2006-08-11 09:49:43
Welcome to Apple-Inside. It's a bitch, isn't it, to lose your illusions? Obviously, you've come from the Consumer side MacWorld extravaganzas in SF to the Developer side WWDC.
Sorry about the let down, the rose-colored glasses have to come off to see under the hood workings at Apple. Things get murky and confusing when they aren't all hyped-up for media consumption.
Give it a rest MediaBoy. You've got your noggin running overtime rationalizing your dissonance.
You'll have to sink your teeth into the meat of Apple now you've seen how they make the sausage they sell. It still tastes great, same great flavor and all! Just a bitch losing those grandiose illusions. Depending on how well you manage to pull out of your funk, you'll get a better appreciation of Steve Jobs and how does he do it. Then we can go back to reading your media punditry on fact based reporting rather than rationalizations.
JRC
2006-08-11 10:22:58
His age is beginning to show? Not likely. He's only in his early fifties. His health may be an issue given his encounter with pancreatic cancer. He also could be learning to delegate responsibility. But ithere is not enough evidence to make a case for much of anything, a situation that encourages speculation at the expense of analysis.
James
2006-08-11 22:31:35
Let's all hope Steve is in good health. We may not all agree with his business decisions, restructuring of Apple, his Gulfstream, etc. But no one can short change his importance to American Marketing.


Take Microsoft, for example, without Steve developing OS-X, where will Uncle Bill get new ideas for Vista. Without Steve MS will probably never get to a follow-on to Vista.


Without Steve, advertisers in many industries will actually have to create new ads (instead of iPod, iTunes, X rip offs). Pity the poor Steve-less advertising copy writer. No Steve : No Ideas. Pray for the Steve.


Micheal Dell, pray for Steve. Without Steve, you'd be still selling beige boxes. With Steve, you have justified your reliance upon Intel. Without Steve Dell would just be another generic PC maker...Oh, nevermind. You get my point.


Modern American marketing, technology, and creative genius owes much to Apple in general and the Steve in particular. Pray for the Steve. Pray for us all. Without Steve we have...Windows? Nope. DOS! Which Gates stole.

Thomas Limmer
2006-08-14 09:51:24
That is for sure, our Steve looks really slim and without fire. I have seen a lot of keynotes before. Let's hope that it is not something serious.