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Jobs will return, says Apple's board

Shareholders serenade absent deity

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The Apple shareholders meeting held Wednesday was dominated by a man who wasn't there: Steve Jobs.

All the other members of Apple's board of directors were in attendance, save Google CEO Eric Schmidt, but none would provide any more-detailed information about the missing Jobs.

“Nothing has changed,” said board member Arthur Levinson, Chairman and CEO of Genentech. Levinson deflected a question from a shareholder about Jobs's health by saying, "If there is any more information that the board deems necessary to disclose, we will disclose it."

The Apple board is sticking to its story: Jobs will return at the end of June as previously announced.

According to a report by Bloomberg.com, the board does have a succession plan in place in case worse comes to worst, but it's confidential.

In what appeared to be an homage to the missing Apple founder's trademark black turtleneck and jeans, COO and interim Apple pilot Tim Cook led the meeting dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans - close, but not a blatant impersonation.

Cook's costume wasn't the only bit of theater at the Cupertino meeting. According to AppleInsider, one shareholder railed against proposals made by "socialists" before "swearing and then excusing himself to get a drink."

Apple provided another bit of theatrics by forcing all attending journalists to surrender their laptops, iPhones, and any other devices with which they could communicate with the outside world.

The performance even morphed into a musical when, at a shareholder's suggestion, the crowd rose to its feet and sang "Happy Birthday" to the absent Jobs, who turned 54 yesterday.

The remainder of the meeting was less entertaining. Cook reported glowingly on Apple's successes and reiterated the company's decision to forego future Macworld Expos, Apple's general counsel Daniel Cooperman dodged a question about a reported SEC investigation into the board's lack of transparency regarding Jobs's condition, and the full board of directors was re-elected.

After the shareholders meeting, the board retired into a private confab. Odds are what was discussed there was far more interesting. ®

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