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Steve Jobs’ new liver
What news of the secret liver transplant says about Apple, its CEO, and its public-relations skills
 

Apple CEO Steve Jobs underwent a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago, said Arik Hesseldahl in BusinessWeek. This “potentially explosive” news about Apple’s “irreplaceable creative and aesthetic powerhouse” could have spooked investors, but The Wall Street Journal broke the story early Saturday morning, after Apple’s “enormously successful” launch of its newest iPhone, so it was an “optimal” time for the news to leak.

The timing was suspiciously good for Apple, said John Gruber in Daring Fireball, which raises the question: Who gave the Journal the story? The story, very oddly, doesn’t cite any source for the news, but the leak likely came from Jobs’ health-care provider, an Apple executive, or from Jobs himself. The story is a little “unflattering” to Jobs, suggesting that his new liver could have been put to better use, so an Apple board member is “my best guess.”

Jobs was lucky to get a new liver, said Sally Satel in Forbes, and he probably chose Tennessee because the transplant wait is much shorter there than in California—moving for a transplant is “perfectly legal,” if expensive, and Jobs would've been “crazy” not to have done it. Still, once he returns to Apple later this month, maybe he can launch an “iLiver initiative” for those facing liver failure who can’t afford to move.

“Steve Jobs isn’t really coming back as CEO,” said tech analyst Joe Wilcox, and certainly not in June, as promised. You don’t recover from a liver transplant for at least six months, and the transplant means Jobs’ pancreatic cancer has returned and spread. The iPhone launch was a clever “misdirection” to blunt the impact of that “public company equivalent of an atomic bomb.”

 

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