How sick is Steve Jobs?

Apple Inc.'s stonewalling over this material corporate event says something very bad about the company. It says they're totally dependent on Jobs, that no one can tell him no on anything, and that when you buy the stock you're buying a man.

Steve Jobs and ZD Apple stock ticker, from Jason PerlowPretty sick, but hopefully not in the way you think.

Everyone knows Jobs had pancreatic cancer in 2004. Surgery can be a cure, but if it's gone too far anything like a cure is a miracle. *

The great fear of any cancer patient is that the cancer returns. If you didn't get absolutely every cancer cell, the disease can metastacize, maybe showing up elsewhere.

When Jobs showed up for the latest developers' conference, looking gaunt, this became the fear. It's a legitimate fear.

Jobs has insisted to friends he is cancer free, but the company is publicly saying his health is a private matter.

Well, it's not. Jobs holds power more tightly than any corporate leader since Walt Disney, and that company foundered for a decade after his 1966 death, from cancer.

The health of Steve Jobs, in other words, is material to the prospects of Apple Inc. If you're worried about him, as Adrian notes, sell.

It's Jobs' refusal to acknowledge this fact, or make any plan for a succession, which has investors on edge. Rightfully so.

Not just because he might die. Because Apple Inc.'s stonewalling over this material corporate event says something very bad about the company.

It says they're totally dependent on Jobs, that no one can tell him no on anything, and that when you buy the stock you're buying a man, not a company.

One man can't be worth $142 billion. For that price I want a thriving business with a deep executive bench that has solid prospects for the long-term future.

My real concern is that Apple Inc. may be suffering from megalamania. That can be worse than even cancer.

* The link is to an article on Patrick Swayze, who says he is making great progress after being diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer this year. Trivial point. He played a leukemia victim in a late episode of M*A*S*H.

A great line from that episode, spoken by William Christopher as Father Mulcahy. "God didn't put us here for that pat on the back.  He created us so he could be here himself.  So that he could exist in the lives of those he created in his image."

Something for Steve, and the rest of us, to think about.

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