Jobs' health to blame for recent Apple issues?

Apple has had more problems of late than it has in a long time, prompting speculation that the alleged declining health of powerhouse CEO Steve Jobs may be related.

Nine days after Apple released its iPhone 2.0 software, the code has been cracked. PwnageTool 2.0 will successfully unlock your iPhone.

This is great, but what I'm waiting for is a tool that will let me downgrade to the older iPhone 1.1.4 software.

Why? Because iPhone 2.0 remains very buggy.

Last night, I was reading my Arsenal news in the Safari browser, and the browser dumped me back to the home screen repeatedly, something that never happened in the iPhone 1.0 world. E-mail routinely dies on me, and those App Store applications? It's rare that I can get through a Sketches session without the application dying.

Steve Jobs once ridiculed Microsoft for cloning its software ("Redmond, start your photocopiers"), but this feels like Apple desperately trying to come up with a suitable rendition of the so-called blue screen of death.

As a hard-core Apple fan, I'm starting to wonder if there's more to this fiasco than meets the eye. It's very unlike Apple to have a sloppy upgrade (iPhone 2.0), terrible customer experience (activation problems at the launch of the 3G iPhone), and a crummy product launch (Mobile Me). Rumors have been swirling that Steve Jobs' health is in significant decline.

Could the recent foibles have something to do with Jobs' lack of oversight due to encroaching health problems?

For Jobs' sake, I hope not. But if his apparent illness is affecting his performance and, hence, the performance of his company, Apple shareholders should know.

If, indeed, Apple is so dependent on its iconic CEO, and if the recent slip-ups have anything to do with Jobs taking a lighter hand at the helm, then Apple's future may not be as rosy as some (like I) hope. Microsoft seems to have built a deep bench of talent to take over in Gates' absence (though I, for one, think it would do even better without Ballmer at the helm). Apple? I'm not so sure.

Your thoughts?

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