The Plan

The recent string of announcements and the timing of each should give us clues to how disciplined Apple has become under the second reign of Steve Jobs. First, Apple said that first quarter 2011 financial results would be announced on a Tuesday, mid-month—a week or so earlier than normal. Second, there was the long-expected announcement that Verizon would get the iPhone. Next?

Within days of Verizon, iPhone, iPad and company taking the wind out of the Consumer Electronics Show sails, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces a leave of absence for health reasons. On a holiday. The very day before Apple announces the best earnings quarter in company history.

Coincidence? Not a chance. Planned?

In the words of Sarah Palin, “You betcha!”

For years, Apple announced first quarter earnings at the end of January, not in the middle of January.

In the public relations business, bad news is always announced on a Friday, or a weekend, or a holiday. Apple announced Steve Jobs’ leave of absence early on a holiday, and one day before a record earnings announcement.

Perfect.

That string of events indicates that Jobs and Apple have been planning his leave of absence for awhile. How long? A month? A few months? It doesn’t matter. This string of announcements are the first steps in setting a succession plan in motion (vs. a plan on paper).

Apple’s executive management team are experienced and talented. The bench is deep. Name a company with more money in the bank than Apple? All products are selling like crazy, and the future looks glowing. Would Apple need to look for an outside CEO to run the company when Jobs finally steps down? Not if COO Tim Cook continues to manage the company well.

Now is the perfect time to put a succession plan into motion—for the sake of Jobs’ health, his family, the company, and the high-flying stock price.