Esquire: With iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is making his final bid for immortality

“One day, Steve Jobs is going to die,” Tom Junod writes for Esquire.

“First, he is mortal. Second, the odds against him are not only actuarial — the inevitable odds we all face — they are clinical. Four years ago, he announced in a memo to his employees that he had undergone surgery, that the surgery was for the removal of a malignant tumor, that the tumor was on his pancreas, and that the surgery was, as he put it, successful. An exceptional man who specializes in exceptionalizing himself — he has been an economic force for thirty years, and it’s still hard to put him in a category, or even to say exactly what he does — he responded to his disease by exceptionalizing it as well. He was at pains to say that the pancreatic cancer he had was not that kind of pancreatic cancer — not the kind that kills you, without much room for exception, in six months or so — but rather ‘a very rare form of pancreatic cancer . . . which represents about 1 percent of the total cases . . . each year, and can be cured by surgical removal.’ Even in extremis, Jobs was being Jobs: He was telling the truth, he was simplifying the truth, he was exaggerating the truth, he was leaving part of the truth out. It is true that his cancer, originating not in the ductwork of the pancreas but rather in the islets of Langerhans, is slow growing and, in the words of one expert, can be addressed ‘with curative intent’; it is also true that even after surgery, the average patient lives about five years,” Junod writes.

MacDailyNews Take: This sort of stuff leaping off the printed page into wide release on the Internet is definitely not helpful to keeping share prices high in turbulent times. The word “average” is very important, of course.

Junod continues, “It’s a Dorian Grayish fable, transposed to the twenty-first century: Steve Jobs has become Steve Jobs by doing what nobody else has done before — by treating computers not just as tools but as mirrors, by making technology not just the engine but the emblem of transcendence. One day, however, he will have to do what everybody else has done before, and will wind up demonstrating what it’s like to be mortal, even in the age of the beautiful machine. And now that he has drawn undeniably closer to the day that has given all his other days their urgency — now that the face staring back in the mirror has lost its shiny-haired California glamour and has taken on the frank rapacity of an old Arab trader — it’s worth asking what the pressure of continual existential awareness has done to him.”

“So long as Steve Jobs is alive, Apple will always be more than a cool gadget company. It will always be more than a computer company. It will be more than an iTunes company or an App Store company — more, even, than the sum of its parts. It will be part of the ongoing history of humankind’s relationship to machines,” Junod writes.

“He’s an artist, Steve. He either likes what he’s looking at or he doesn’t. He’s not concerned with what contribution he’s making. He wants to astound himself, for himself,” Junod. “If it was out of that desire to astound himself that he created the iPhone, then he succeeded in ways he didn’t foresee. He changed the twentieth century by making the computer something for our homes; now he has the chance to change the twenty-first by making it something for our pockets.”

There’s quite a lot in the death-steeped full article, including more than a few jumps to conclusions that completely lack supporting evidence (Jobs, of course, was not interviewed) while mightily straining credibility (such as the one where Jobs was supposedly surprised to find out a year later that the iPhone he had built turned out to be a handheld computer and he’d therefore never planned to open it to 3rd-party developers), but it’s refreshingly well-written and interesting, so we do recommend reading it here (and then let us know what you think below).


  1. Yikes. A five-year average survival rate… that sucks! Then again, my mother-in-law had breast cancer with a 5 year average survival rate…. 14 years ago, and she’s still going strong. One can only hope Steve is the exception once again!

  2. NO stock buybacks. Please. It sends a message to the market that you feel that the stock is in danger. Just look at Microsoft. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Just a thought.

  3. eeegads. We all die someday. BFD. The guy has had all kinds of rerouting of his guts, he will always have trouble keeping on weight.

    “overall 1-, 2-, and 5-year survival rates were 84%, 69%, and 36%”

    ” analyzed by specific treatment of the primary tumor, the 5-year actuarial disease-specific survival was 63% for the group that had resection “

    “In their series of 33 patients, Legaspi and Brennan12 demonstrated that the resected group had a projected 3-year survival rate of 100% “

    “20-year period, Thompson et al.15 demonstrated a significant 3-year survival advantage of 82% “
    “5-year survival for patients with neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas approaches 35% to 54%.11,14,15,22”

    So what this is saying is, if you are not the average patient (ie have liver mets) your survival at 5 years can be 63% or better. I think this person’s interpretation that the average person lives 5 years is not responsible. To make an ‘average’ a lot goes into the equation. old, young, otherwise ill or infirm, patients w/ mets and not, patients whose surgery went well and those whose surgery didn’t.

    I’m a surgeon. I’m betting on Steve being around for a while.

  4. @ElderNorm

    It can also show the company is doing well which.. apple is doing well.. but we are all taking it up the a** with the analysts who should be shot dead or imprisoned for life.


    You aren’t realising that many people bought into apple because of steve jobs… And if you haven’t noticed.. just mentioning that he looks like he needs a sandwich or two can drop the stock alot. If he dies I’d be scared to hold onto my shares in apple in fear of the idiots who will sell immediately and all the banks reporting to sell apple shares since they see it as a good time to dump the shares immediately so they can then report that its a great time to buy and make loads of money again.

  5. Again, Apple and Steve not Steve and Apple’s many innovative development employees. You know, the people that Steve Jobs thanks when ever he shows of something new (“The one more thing”).

    Steve guides and approves things. He does not develop them by himself.

  6. Apple needs to bailout or financial institutions! Apple has some 19 billion in cash and ads about a billion a quarter. So, with one quarter’s of profits it could make this whole mess go away and become a huge force in the financial world. I would bank at BankofApple. or iBank or AppleBank. Especially if I could DL my transactions right into Quicken (unlike BofA). Diversify!

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