Steve, have you lost weight? Analyzing the Apple chief's BMI
Steve Jobs and the new iPhone he unveiled Monday are facing the same question: How thin are they really?
First, people wondered whether the iPhone 3G was thinner or fatter than its predecessor. Answer: thinner on the edges and thicker in the middle.
Now, it's Jobs' turn. The buzz at the Apple developer conference and on blogs afterward was that the 53-year-old CEO looked much more gaunt than in previous public appearances. His physique inspired some major speculation about whether Jobs, who battled pancreatic cancer in 2003, was again suffering from health troubles.
After his keynote address, investors and Apple fans scrutinized Jobs' appearance almost as closely as they did the new iPhone. One tech analyst (who declined to be named out of fear of angering Apple) told me that after seeing photos of Jobs from the event, his clients were so worried that they searched the Web for old pictures of him. Their conclusion: If he were a boxer, he'd be fighting in a lower weight class.
Turns out, Jobs has been a little sick, according to an Apple spokeswoman. She said he was recovering from a "common bug that he got two weeks ago" and was taking antibiotics. "He didn't want to miss" the developers conference, she said.
It's a sign of Apple's rocket success and Jobs' importance to the company that people discuss his health as if he were gunning for the White House. But is it fair to Jobs and his family? One could argue that he has the right to a private life -- except when it concerns the fate of the company to which he is so inextricably tied. After all, this is a man who closely controls every decision Apple makes and has overseen its restoration to the ranks of the world's finest technology companies.
But does that mean people have a right to know his current body mass index? (Eyeballing him, I would put it at 19.)
Old anxieties about Jobs and his health were fanned earlier this year after a Fortune magazine story described how Jobs and Apple's board hid his cancer diagnosis for months while he fought the disease. Jobs was lucky and beat the cancer after an operation. But the silence of the board didn't give investors and Apple fans any comfort that the company would disclose the information if Jobs were to become sick again.
For now, the official word is that Jobs is like his new iPhone: Thin at the edges, but still robust.
-- Michelle Quinn
Photo, right: Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday in San Francisco. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times
Photo, left: Jobs at an Apple store in Palo Alto in June 2007 with wife Laurene Powell. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press