Apple‘s conference call with analysts just ended, and the surprise is that no one asked about Steve Jobs’ health and when he might return to the company.

Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer, and Tim Cook, chief operating officer, didn’t volunteer any information about Jobs either. As a result, the specter of an Apple without Steve Jobs went unaddressed. That seems like a rather large omission.

Apple has long maintained that it has a succession plan, a deep management bench, and that no single person can determine the fate of the company. But Jobs is an icon of the industry, operates in a hands-on manner with all of Apple’s key products and is viewed as one of the best leaders of a company anywhere.

On Monday, Apple announced that Jobs was going on a medical leave of absence and that Cook is taking over in the meantime. It’s the third time Jobs has had to relinquish control of the company for medical reasons. I’m dumbfounded that the analysts didn’t ask. Maybe they knew they wouldn’t get an answer. Maybe they couldn’t figure out a way to get beyond a “no comment.” It says a lot about how they are focused on numbers, numbers, numbers. But clearly it’s to a fault.

I have to believe that just about everybody else in the world of business and technology wants to know more about Jobs and whether he is OK or not. Cook seemed to occasionally veer toward the subject when he talked about how strong Apple was, noting that “excellence has become a habit” with every member of the team.

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