The news yesterday that Steve Jobs will taking another forced health leave of absence from Apple again had a negative effect on the company share price.
The US stock market was closed for a holiday and the company is announcing latest results today, so you can be sure the timing of this was not coincidence, more a hope that good results news will counter the bad to some extent. That was not the case in European markets where the share price dropped by over 5% almost immediately.
To a large degree Steve Jobs personal brand is the brand of Apple;
- He drives the strategy of the company (even off sick the announcement made sure investors fears were minimized by saying he would continue to be involved in strategic decisions).
- His controlling leadership and planning and preparation for all news and events makes them even more anticiapted and acted upon. Tim Cook who took over the last time Jobs was off did a great job (he earnt $59 million for a great job!), he was even the spokesperson for last weeks news about Verizon becoming a seller of the iPhone – usually a role reserved for Jobs. This will again likely soften the blow.
- His creative and innovative process saved the company and now has made it the most valuable tech company in the world, in just over a decade. No doubt innovaion will continue to happen, but the aura around Jobs ability to develop the next greatest success has many wondering if they can do it without him.
Tim Cook is a very able second lieutenant , but the captain of this ships personal brand is so strong and so linked to the name and success of the company there is a danger that at times like these with no obvious answer the Apple brand is damaged and confidence is affected. Time will tell.