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Apple's light flickers

Apple's light flickers

"Smirking doesn't become you," my wife Pammy said, glaring over her monitor where PointCast was flashing the news of Gil Amelio's departure from Apple.

I was too bemused by the internal question and answer sheet for Apple employees to even think about this week's prescient coverage of the embattled - and now former - CEO.

Question: Why is Gil leaving?

Answer, according to the internal document: The company needs to "aggressively boost its business" in order to return to profitability. Apple's board determined that "a different CEO profile is needed to accomplish these goals".

Cringely interpretation: Remarkable. "Gil" and "aggressive" have never before been used in the same paragraph.

Question: Was the decision based on Apple's recent financial performance?

Official answer: The board thinks Apple's performance "has not been satisfactory". The board has a responsibility to act "in the best interest of shareholders". Gil tendered his resignation and the board accepted it.

Cringely interpretation: Yes.

Question: Is Apple for sale?

US Securities and Exchange Commission-approved answer:

"Apple's management and board are not looking to sell the company.

They have a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions that are in the long-term best interests of shareholders."

Cringely interpretation: Make us an offer we can't refuse.

Question: Who sold the 1.5 million shares of Apple stock in June?

Answer: "We do not comment on the investment activities of our shareholders unless the shareholders are required to disclose those activities to the SEC."

Cringely interpretation: That's one smart SOB who avoided a $US1.5 million drop in value in the two weeks between the sale and the Amelio departure announcement.

One question not on the official answer sheet was the amount of Amelio's severance package.

His contract called for a $US10 million payment in the event of "involuntary termination".

Polite wording of press releases aside, I'm certain Amelio wasn't ready to leave.

I'm thinking I should offer my services as Apple's new CEO. I could run up a few billion dollars in losses for the company, and I'd be willing to do it for a fraction of the $US13 million that Amelio's 18-month compensation package cost.

If not me, then who will be the next CEO of Apple? It won't be Steve Jobs. Moving vans have been hauling his belongings out of Redwood Shores and up to Pixar, where his team is at work on the next Disney animation.

A reliable rumour broker suggested I look at Borland CEO Del Yocam, who spent 10 years at Apple pulling tours of duty in operations and manufacturing for the Apple II division, followed by a stint as the chief operating officer, then head of operations in the Pacific Rim.

The popular choice for an Apple suitor is not Oracle or Sun.

Some suggest that Adobe pony-up the pennies for Apple, re-creating the company as a media-tools empire.

Exhausted but invigorated, I stopped burning the midnight oil. Amelio is out - but the Apple saga burns on!


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