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Report Of Steve Jobs' Death Greatly Exaggerated

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By Michele Masterson, ChannelWeb

11:21 AM EDT Thu. Aug. 28, 2008

Taking a page from Mark Twain, an obituary of Apple (NSDQ:AAPL) of Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs was accidentally published on Bloomberg's wire service on Wednesday.

The premature obituary was in the process of being updated and was marked as "hold, not for release," according to media gossip site Gawker.com, which printed the report before it was immediately taken off the wire service. It is common practice for news organizations to update obituaries of leading public figures before their death to keep information as up to date as possible.

Red-faced Bloomberg editors deleted the story and wrote, "An incomplete story referencing Apple Inc. was inadvertently published by Bloomberg News at 4:27 p.m. New York time today. The item was never meant for publication and has been retracted," according to Gawker.

The lengthy obit delves into Jobs' considerable accomplishments, and includes how Apple stocks would react upon news of his demise. It ends with a list of Jobs' survivors, including his wife, children and sisters.

Since the premature obit was quickly deleted, it did not impact Apple stock. There has been much speculation about Jobs' health since he appeared to have lost a great deal of weight and looked gaunt at the The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Many wondered if Jobs' was suffering from a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer that he had in 2003. Subsequently, rumors were fueled by media reports which further speculated about the health of the Apple leader, including debates about whether Jobs' health was a private matter, if he was in fact ill -- which Apple denied -- and how such a serious health matter impact the company's finances.

Things came to a head following a New York Times article published in late July by tech columnist Joe Nocera who wrote, "To be blunt about it, is that Apple simply can't be trusted to tell truth about its chief executive. Under Mr. Jobs, Apple has created a culture of secrecy that has served it well in many ways." In the article, Nocera cited an earlier article in the Times concerning Jobs' health.

"John Markoff reported in The New York Times that Mr. Jobs had had [sic] a surgical procedure earlier this year, the details of which remain unclear. I hear that he has had ongoing digestive difficulties, which have contributed to his weight loss--possibly a side effect of the surgery. And in the weeks leading up to the conference, he came down with an infection, which had a lot to do with why he looked so gaunt. It wasn't cancer, thank goodness. But was more than a "common bug." By claiming Mr. Jobs had a bug, Apple wasn't just going dark on its shareholders. It was deceiving them."

Nocera said that just hours after he spoke to Apple concerning the alleged health issues, Jobs, never one to mince words, phoned him, angrily reacting to the article, and called Nocera on the carpet.

According to Nocera, the conversation went like this, "This is Steve Jobs," he began. "You think I'm an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he's above the law, and I think you're a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong." After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn't talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed."

"Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn't hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than "a common bug," they weren't life-threatening and he doesn't have a recurrence of cancer."

So, whether it's a premature obit or persistent media speculation, Jobs once again finds himself in the unwanted spotlight of the public.


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