June 07, 2011, 12:13 PM — A reader comment on this post about Apple's stock price falling Monday -- the opening day of the company's annual developers' conference -- raises a fair question that should be discussed: Are investors worried about the health of Steve Jobs?
I'd guess that they are. As heartening as it was to hear on May 30 that Jobs would present part of the WWDC's opening keynote -- news that arguably was primarily responsible for a 3 percent jump in share price -- Jobs's gaunt appearance and weak voice were noticeable on Monday.
Nor should that be a surprise to anyone. The man went on an indefinite medical leave of absence six months ago (which caused shares to drop 2.25 percent). He has a history of serious health problems, and when he briefly took the stage in March for the launch of iPad 2, Jobs looked weak and ill.
I'd say he looked about the same Monday. Some people, though, were reassured by Jobs's physical appearance. Cult of Mac Editor and Publisher Leander Kahney writes that "Steve Jobs looked pretty healthy" and that "all-in-all, I thought he looked pretty vibrant and energetic on stage."
Kahney asked what readers thought, and nearly all of them disagreed ("he could barely walk," "his voice scared me," "extremely emaciated"). And these are Cult of Mac readers.
People know what they see, and what WWDC attendees saw Monday was a man struggling with what may well be a life-threatening health problem. Wall Street saw the same thing, which could explain why shares fell 1.6 percent on Monday and another 1.5 percent (to 332.94) by noon Tuesday.
One analyst thinks investors already have factored in Jobs's departure from the company he co-founded.
"I don't think the stock reaction is about (Jobs') health," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in this Huffington Post/AP article. "Almost every investor I talk to doesn't believe he'll be part of the company in a year or two."
Harsh, yes, but reasonable and realistic.