Does Steve Jobs’ value to Apple eliminate his right to medical privacy?

“Decades ago, Jobs was a private citizen until teaming up in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to establish Apple Computer Inc. Since then, and especially in recent years—following his return to lead the company through the darkest period in its history—Jobs has become the face of Apple and a celebrity,” Bolaji Ojo writes for EE Times.

“Peter Oppenheimer seems to think otherwise. The Apple chief financial officer and senior vice president sought—during a conference call on the company’s latest quarterly results—to dismiss questions raised in the media about the health of his boss,” Ojo writes. “Jobs’ health, according to Oppenheimer, ‘is a private matter,’ adding ‘Steve loves Apple. He serves as the CEO at the pleasure of Apple’s board and has no plans to leave Apple.'”

Ojo writes, “Oppenheimer is wrong, and his comments indicate Apple’s management either isn’t willing to admit publicly how Jobs’ persona has merged into the company’s image or perhaps, fearing the impact of admitting the obvious, the executives would rather downplay very public fears of the impact on Apple if anything were to happen to Jobs.”

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t know what Oppenheimer thinks; he’s merely saying exactly what Jobs told him to say.

Ojo continues, “Jobs is no more a private individual than Mickey Mouse is just another stuffed animal. Jobs is a legend in the personal computing world, and increasingly in the consumer electronics market where he is credited with helping to drive much needed change in interactive wireless communications with the iPhone and in digital music with the iPod and iTunes. But the consequences of Jobs’ health extends way beyond his immediate family. For that reason alone, Jobs’ health is a matter of interest to all Apple stakeholders.”

MacDailyNews Take: There are a lot of things that Apple shareholders would like to know. That does not mean they have a right to be told.

Ojo lists six reasons why he believes that Steve Jobs’ health is not a private matter:

1. Speculation about Jobs’ health is hurting Apple’s stock price and can affect relationships with key suppliers and partners.
2. After returning in 1997, Jobs gave Apple a new lease on life following one of the most dismal periods in its history.
3. Apple’s lofty market valuation depends upon the perception that Jobs is the innovative spirit behind the company.
4. Apple has experienced huge revenue and profits growth under Jobs.
5. Apple is still vulnerable.
6. There’s no clear [successor] to Jobs in Apple’s current executive ranks.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What does #2 (or some others in his list) have to do with why Jobs health is not a private matter? You don’t need “six reasons.” The argument boils down simply: Steve Jobs’ value to Apple either somehow eliminates his right to privacy regarding medical conditions or it doesn’t. Take your pick.

For further information via The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights:
• Your Health Information Privacy Rights
Privacy and Your Health Information

58 Comments

  1. I would like every idiot who feels that Mr. Jobs should give up his provacy to post their complete medical history online first…

    Who the hell is Ojo? Did he recently get an appointment as GOD of All Health? Did I miss that announcement? Or is Ojo pissed he didn’t think to buy when the stock was at 150? before the bounce back up?

  2. @MDN

    We don’t know what Oppenheimer thinks; he’s merely saying exactly what Jobs told him to say.

    AH HA!! I’ve caught you in your own mythology. If Jobs didn’t brief brief Oppenheimer before the telecon, Peter wouldn’t know what to talk about. Apple is doomed w/o Steve Jobs. Doomed I tell you.

    “So stick that in your mouth Trebeck and SHUCK IT! SHUCK IT LONG SHUCK IT HARD. SH-UCK IT! (SNL: Sean Connery on Jeopardy.)

  3. @Chris White

    apparently you dont have aapl stock, otherwise you’d be pissed off that they couldn’t ever so easily just say steve is ok. No more of the, “his health is a private matter” Normally I could careless and if jobs wanted to get the stock to go back up he’d make an announcement that he is ok. Wouldn’t matter if he was lying or not.. it would atleast get all the idiots out there to stop dumpin their stock because he’s a little sick.

  4. If you don’t like Steve’s decisions, sell your stock. No one is twisting your arm to hold on to it.

    (or, buy a lot of Apple stock and vote him out)

    If Mickey Mouse were to ever leave Disney, I would sell my all Disney stock!

  5. “Does Steve Jobs’ value to Apple eliminate his right to medical privacy?”

    He has every right to privacy. As with every other public company, what he and the board decide to disclose to shareholders and the public is on a need to know basis.

    Steve is healthy, recovering nicely, enjoying his vacation and browsing his succession plan and Apple’s detailed sales data including the amazing numbers for the MacBook Air on his own MBA while testing many new, insanely great technologies like resolution independence, Snow Leopard and upcoming products that will once again ignite a revolution in the world of technology.

    It’s time to move past this morbid obsession some of you have for Steve’s health.

  6. Steve Jobs is Apple. When he finally dies, they should stuff him and prop him up in a corner of the room so his “spirit” will live on in the face of the employees. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  7. “5. Apple is still vulnerable.”
    Can somebody name a company, or even country, that isn’t vulnerable?

    I’m sure the folks at Exxon worry about what will happen to their company when everyone’s driving around in all-electric vehicles that get their recharges from wind and solar. That doesn’t mean they won’t keep raking in billions of dollars per week for a long time to come.

  8. Yes, I think it does.

    From a PR standpoint, Apple’s handled this all wrong. They can issue statements about Jobs’ health until they’re blue in the face, but it means nothing until we hear something directly from Jobs himself.

    For that reason, I think he should write an open letter immediately in order to (a) assuage the concerns of both shareholders and the technology community, and (b) reassure everyone that there is a concrete succession plan in place when the time comes for Jobs to leave Apple.

    When it came to light that the company concealed his illness from the public for almost nine months, there was a lot of ill will cast in Apple’s direction. Now that the same concerns are being discussed again (and taking into consideration today’s Times report about the second Jobs surgery), both Jobs and Apple have a responsibility to act in the best interests of each other, and they can do that by becoming completely transparent about the health of the most valuable man in the consumer electronics industry.

    If they have something to share, the blow will be softened by discussing it now. If they don’t, everyone’s worst fears will be put to rest for good. It’s a win-win situation, and they’re fools if they do otherwise.

  9. Well Folks

    Following this logic –

    Glenn Miller is a significant member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra

    And Mick Jagger is very important to The Rolling Stones

    But

    Even without Glenn, “In the Mood” is still a great song

    And for Mick ?

    Well, guess we just can’t get no “Satisfaction” in some matters

    And don’t even get me started on Elvis ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    All this yip-yap about Steve and his influence and his “health” is merely this:

    A very simple psychological transference of their fear of what is about to happen to our favorite softie company in Redmond now that Billy is “dead” and Uncle Fester is running that show.

    They are afraid to face THAT situation, so they choose to focus on Apple and throw rocks in frustration.

    BC

  10. Steve is a great guy, but Apple will outlive him no matter how old he is when fate catches up with him. People who buy Apple stock know that they won’t get paid dividends, and that the only way to profit from it is to buy low and sell high. The company is very deeply in the black, and could easily buy back alot of that stock that these idiots are dumping. The truth is that the stock price is irrelevant to the survivability of the company, since Apple makes products to sell (unlike Enron).

    But to “macbones” suggestion, I’d like to wish both Steves a very long life and tenure (one to help Apple, while the other is to hurt Microsoft).

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