December 20, 1996 12:45 PM ET
Apple reportedly rehiring Steve Jobs
By PC Week Staff

  Apple Computer Inc. is expected to rehire co-founder Steven Jobs to help the computer company update its operating system software, according to published reports today.

Jobs will reportedly be hired as a part-time consultant and "technology guru" to head up the Cupertino, Calif., company's software project.

An announcement could come later today.

Jobs, who founded Apple with Stephen Wozniak, left the company in 1985 after a power struggle with then chief-executive John Sculley. He is currently chairman and CEO of NeXT Software Inc.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Jobs would supervise the launch of the new Macintosh operating system, an update that is regarded as critical to Apple's future.

A spokesman for Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Jobs is on vacation this week, according to his assistant at NeXT.

While Apple has not officially discussed the move with Wall Street analysts, some said they couldn't be sure whether it was a good move or not until they heard specific details.

"It all depends on the whole reasoning behind it and what Apple is going to be doing with Jobs' current focus," said Wendy Abramowitz, an analyst at Argus Research, in New York. "Given the amount of unknowns, I don't know at this point if it's a good plan or not."

"Obviously, Apple is leaving a lot of options open in terms of how they upgrade the operating system. There have been active discussions with Be [Inc.], and NeXT is also an advanced operating system, so it wouldn't be surprising [if they did this deal]," said Eugene Glazer senior vice president at Deam Witter Reynolds, in New York.

Mark Specker, an analyst at SoundView Financial, said he wouldn't be surprised if Jobs did take the position at Apple.

"Might he go back as a consultant? Yes. Would he go back as an employee? No. I sort of doubt he would work for, say, [Chief Technical Officer] Ellen Hancock."

But Specker questioned how successful Apple would be with a complete overhaul of its operating system.

"They seem to be investigating an awful lot of options in what they want to do. They seem to be straddling going forward with Be vs. going forward with Copland [the next generation of the Mac OS]," he said. "If they do come out and say were going through an operating transition, with issues about backward compatibility, that's a risk-all strategy. Unless they can demonstrate a compelling reason to stay with Apple through the transition, they'll lose it all.

"Is someone like Steve Jobs, who has an extremely strong personality, the kind of person you need to lead customers into that transition? The answer could be yes."

Margaret Kane, Mike Moeller and Tom Schmidt contributed to this story.

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