There’s more than one halo at stake.

Once again, profits at Apple have soared. This time profits during the latest quarter were up 88 percent on the same period last year; iPod sales were up from 8.5 million a year ago to 10.5 million units, while the Mac saw a sales lift from 1.1 million to 1.5 million units.

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All that, and we are still waiting for the iPhone to have an impact.

For some time now, when analysts have been talking about Apple they have referred to a halo effect. This is the idea that customers are so chuffed with their iPods they go out and buy a Mac. In the UK, we have seen this opportunity reinforced with those ads featuring Mitchell and Webb emphasising the Mac’s application in the home – and as a consumer product – perhaps targeting buyers of iPods.

But, there are people in this equation too – serious heavyweight people.

First there is Al Gore, former vice president, the man who tells us an inconvenient truth, and a man whose halo seems to shine out from a country not known for its proactive approach to the environment.

Then there is Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. Since Google can apparently do no wrong – at least as far as investors are concerned – its chief executive too seems to walk in business circles with a round ring circulating a few inches above his head.

But if Gore and Schmidt are heroes, what does that make Steve Jobs? Every time we say anything that is the tiniest bit negative about Apple, we get bombarded with emails correcting us for having heretical thoughts.

We have said that until Steve Jobs walks on water, we will include a note of scepticism when considering whether the company’s good fortune can continue, to which we have been told ‘too late, the company’s boss already strides atop the flowing streams and rivers of business.’

Maybe Jobs, who is also a key influencer at Disney these days, has the brightest halo of the lot; the star of corporate America – except he isn’t that corporate.

But then maybe all those saints could get vilified.

Earlier this week, former Apple CFO, Fred Anderson, said he had warned Jobs of the dangers in backdating stock options.

But now, with their halos shining bright, Gore, Schmidt and four other Apple board members have signed a statement of confidence in Jobs.

The statement said: “The SEC investigated the matter thoroughly and its complaint speaks for itself, in terms of what it says, what it does not say, who it charges, and who it does not charge#133;.We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple’s independent investigation, and in Steve’s integrity and his ability to lead Apple.”
So that’s okay then. If Al Gore and Eric Schmidt say Jobs is in the clear, he must be.
Mind you, can Apple manage without its boss? In those years of wilderness when Jobs was out of the loop, the company went close to total failure. If Fred Anderson is right – and we are not saying he is – then that would be a truth that is far too inconvenient to contemplate?
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