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A Leader in Innovation: Steve Jobs and the Apple Mystique

Tuesday, 8 Sep 2009 | 9:48 AM ET
Steve Jobs
AP
Steve Jobs

In this age of instant information, Apple has been extremely clever over the years at creating suspense and excitement around any kind of product announcement or event that they stage. One such event is on the calendar for tomorrow.

For this event, there is an added layer of mystery surrounding founder Steve Jobs and whether he will make his first public appearance since his liver transplant over four months ago. If he does appear, investors and consumers alike will want to see how healthy he looks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him there, because it would actually be a bigger story and fuel more speculation if he doesn’t appear.

It’s Only Rock and Roll But We Like It

As my colleague Jim Goldman has reported, the press invitations to the event featured the title: It’s only rock and roll but we like it. That suggests a music-related event, most likely related to the iPod.

This has only added to the intrigue. If Jobs appears, who will be on stage with him? Is it going to be U2 or the Rolling Stones? Is this going to be when they announce a deal to feature Beatles music on iTunes? Most observers seem to believe that will not be the case, but the fact that it’s part of the speculation only enhances the mystery.

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Quite simply, Apple and Steve Jobs have a mystique about them. They have been able to create unparalleled suspense and excitement around their events and products, which has helped make investors a lot of money. Over the last 10 years, Apple’s stock has rocketed more than 800 percent, while the S&P 500 is actually down nearly 20 percent.

A Modern-Day Edison

A lot of the credit, of course, goes to Jobs. He may well be the most fascinating American businessman of his generation. He is the one who put “personal” in the personal computer. He revolutionized the music business. He revolutionized the movie business, and now he's revolutionizing telephony.

There's nobody else who by innovation, invention and product design and development has been able to equal that, maybe ever. He’s a modern-day Thomas Edison.

It's been amazing to watch Steve Jobs in action through the years. And now, by all accounts, he’s come out of his liver transplant and still has an active role in his company’s legendary innovation and growth. I'm sure we'll see more evidence of that tomorrow and in the future as Apple retains its status as one of the most dynamic companies in the world.

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Questions? Comments? Write toinvestoragenda@cnbc.com

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