News on the health of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs was all over the place this week. Some published reports indicated that the iconic chieftain is in great shape, while a more gruesome story from Gizmodo indicated that Jobs' end is near.

The speculation is slightly ghastly, but Apple shareholders have had to grapple with the whipsawing rumors of Jobs' health since last month's announcement that Apple will no longer attend the annual Macworld conference after this year. Succession plans at Apple will be at least one of the major things to watch for come 2009.

Investors will naturally face many other pressing questions in the year ahead:

  • Will eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) find a way to lure buyers and sellers back to its auction site after a bumpy 2008?
  • Will Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) get past three huge refinancing obstacles this year?
  • Will Windows 7 be successful enough to help Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) get over the bad rap that Vista has received?

This past year was painful, and 2009 may not get any better. However, with so many questions barreling toward answers, at least we know the new year will be revelatory.

Briefly in the news
Now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week:

  • As other companies scale back customer perks, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is doing the opposite. The company will now ship out extra titles in a subscriber's queue -- at no additional cost -- if the top available title is being shipped from a distant distribution center. What the DVD rental giant spends in shipping and studio royalties, it will hopefully recoup in customer retention costs.
  • Fourteen Fool writers served up their candidates for the top stock in 2009, and then let our readers vote for the winner. The victor? Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). Its blend of pharmaceuticals and consumer staples is apparently top dog as we head into this unsure 2009.

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz

Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Netflix, eBay, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for Netflix. The Fool has a disclosure policy.