What is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) without Steve Jobs? We're finding out, now that the charismatic CEO is taking a leave of absence until this summer. Jobs did bow out for a spell in 2004 during his bout with pancreatic cancer, but Apple is a much more popular company today.

Bulls will argue that Apple can run on autopilot these days. Bears will argue that Apple's lack of a public succession strategy is the catalyst behind the market's negative reaction to the news.

They're both right. Jobs' isn't the only brilliant mind at Apple. The cool products will keep coming. However, shame on Apple for dancing around Jobs' health until he had no choice but to step down.

It certainly doesn't help that the company is also set to post its quarterly results in a few days. Is the report so bad that Jobs didn't want to preside over the conference call, the way he sidestepped the seemingly lackluster Macworld earlier this month?

Conspiracy theorists? Welcome to a feeding frenzy of conjecture that only time can quell.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look back at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) finally has a new leader, in former Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK) CEO Carol Bartz. This doesn't mean that the struggling search engine's next venture is to enter CAD software development, although it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a few more architects around. Now it's time to see if Bartz can play hardball with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), either to squeeze out a generous buyout offer or to push Mr. Softy away and seize the breathing room Yahoo! needs to give it a go on its own.
  • Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) is making inroads in digital delivery, teaming up with Sonic Solutions to combine Sonic's CinemaNow digital video library with Blockbuster's own offering, under Blockbuster's brand. The move is unlikely to disrupt Blockbuster's old-school DVD rental business. However, it may pose a threat to piecemeal digital rental specialists like Apple and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN). A cutthroat market got even more cutthroat. I wonder how all that slicing looks in HD?

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Amazon.com and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. 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 does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.