Clearly the old adage that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t holding up for Apple’s financial health, which has taken repeated hits in recent months, the latest being a 2.5% decrease in stock value on Monday after analysts downgraded it. One could point to an ailing economy and penny pinching all around as the culprits but, when considered in the context of the massive stock price dip that followed a false announcement of celebrity CEO Steve Jobs’ heart attack in October, it’s hard to ignore the role leadership plays in keeping stakeholders coming back for more.
Now, news that Jobs will not be giving the keynote address at the annual Macworld Conference and Expo—a role he has filled with pomp and circumstance in years past—seemed to confirm the groundswell of suspicion regarding his health (he has battled pancreatic cancer) and, in turn, the health of the little brand that could. Jobs’ gaunt appearance at recent events already had people talking, and this doesn’t help.
But what about Apple spokesman Steve Dowling’s response to questions about Jobs’ reason for skipping the event? When directly asked if the cancellation was related to illness, Dowling responded, “Phil [Schiller, SVP of Marketing] is giving the keynote because this is Apple’s last year in the show, and it doesn’t make sense for us to make a major investment in a trade show we will no longer be attending.”
How’s that for a non-answer? Maybe it’s just me, but I think stock value is more vulnerable when stakeholders’ concerns are deflected and they are faced with uncertainty. Plus, refusing to answer the question implies what everyone already believes, so why not confirm or deny? The non-answer strategy mirrors that of parents who respond to children’s “whys” with “because I said so’s.”
By Courtney Barnes