Apple Computer shareholders have shown their faith in Steve Jobs by resoundingly re-electing the interim president and CEO to Apple's board of directors.
Jobs returned the compliment by pledging to reinstate Intuit's support for Macintosh with its Quicken financial software, just 24 hours after Intuit said it plans to halt development of Quicken for the Mac.
Ninety-nine percent of Apple's shareholders voted to give Jobs another year on the board, according to ballots received before today's annual shareholder meeting, Apple officials said. Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle, and Edgar Woolard, former chairman of DuPont, retained their seats by the same margin, according to officials.
Basking in the afterglow of last week's earnings report which saw Apple's income more than double analyst predictions, Jobs fielded questions from a packed hall of shareholders at the company's Cupertino, California, campus, most of whom seemed satisfied with Apple's progress of late.
Jobs addressed Apple's strategy for the Newton operating system and its decision to reel in licenses to clone makers, and promised new products from Apple by the end of the year that would reinstate Apple's position in the consumer market, although he offered no hint what those products would be.
One shareholder told Jobs he found it "inappropriate" for Bill Campbell, president and CEO of Intuit, to be among Apple's board of directors, given Intuit's decision to halt development for the Mac.
Job's assumed responsibility for Intuit's decision, saying Apple failed to "get into Intuit's face" and inform it of Apple's intention to reestablish itself in the consumer market. Jobs has since appraised Cambell of Apple's intentions, he said, adding, "I think you'll see a joint press release by the companies in the next two weeks."
Asked why Apple has not licensed or sold its Newton OS, Jobs said offers received so far have been too small, and it is in the company's best interest to retain the technology for possible use in future versions of the Mac OS.
However, he said, "When the money gets to be a medium amount, then we'll be looking very carefully."
Jobs fielded the inevitable question of whether he might remove the "interim" from his title and become Apple's permanent CEO. After giving the industry-standard response -- "no announcement at this time" -- Jobs used the question to take a swipe at former Apple CEO Gil Amelio.
"People are so worried about me and the word "interim," but they were worried about the last CEO too, and he wasn't an interim, so go figure," he said.
To drive software support for the Mac OS, Apple will focus the resources it provides to developers mostly on "the top 100 software developers," rather than spreading funds equally among the 10,000 or so developers estimated to be writing for the Mac, Jobs said.
"It's the top 100 who are really bringing product to market," Jobs said.
Asked by one shareholder about Apple's decision to stop licensing the Mac to clonemakers, Jobs said poor licensing deals struck by former Apple managers had allowed clonemakers to eat into the market for high-end systems -- where Apple derives its greatest profit margins, he said.
A few shareholders went up to the microphone simply to express their support for Apple.
Shareholder Mary Peterson told the meeting she is 76 years old and has little knowledge of computers, but bought shares in Apple because "I've always had a soft spot for the company."
"Don't let anybody swallow you," Peterson told Jobs, to which he replied: "Nobody's tried to swallow us since I've been here -- I think they're afraid of how we'd taste."
Shareholders at the meeting also approved a stock option plan for the company's directors and top officers worth about 17.4 million shares, according to a preliminary vote count.
The meeting had originally been closed to press and analysts, but Apple backed away from that decision yesterday, citing a "miscommunication" by their public relations department.