Dream on. As much as I would love to see this scenario play out, I have to side with my friend Robert Scoble.
The Scoblelizer answered my question about Jobs this way: "You're not young, you've had a near-death cancer experience, and you have enough wealth that you never have to work again. Why would you want to?"
That sort of logic is what is making me start to think that Steve will return, if only to prove that he can. Of course, Steve can play as large or small a part in Apple's future as he chooses. It's not so important that Steve shows up at the office every day, so much that his hand is on the rudder, keeping Apple from running around.
Here is a reason for Steve to stay: Stock. The moment the world decides Steve is leaving, Apple's share price plummets and Steve's net worth ain't what it used to be.
Again, he presumably does not need the money, but there is so much of it that will disappear if he leaves Apple.
While Apple is known for arrogance and micromanagement, it's better known for Jobs, who happens to be the primary exponent of the other two, but that's for another posting.
So long as Apple has the Jobs touch, things are likely to be just fine. A total departure, however messes things up. If Job's is well enough to return - which may or may not be a big "if" - I think he will, if only for the perceived triumph it would create.
With all the rumored product out there - I am betting on new high-end iPhone, new low-end iPhone, and the "mediapad" - Jobs would have a lot to show after the July 4 break.
By then, iPhone 3.0 applications should be available and the new iPhone OS will have had a bit of time for refinement. I am expecting that since Apple already needs to be manufacturing the new hardware that the iPhones are likely to take a software update just as soon as they are powered on. That, by the way, would be a plus and not a minus for customers.
Steve Jobs return with a bag full of toys really would be a Christmas in July for all the Apple faithful. It is a great Christmas story and I am going to believe it. Think Santa Steve will have reindeer and a sleigh?
(Or maybe he will leave, the company will go to hell, and someday Jobs will ride back into Apple to save the company from itself - for a second time. That might be a better story for the Jobs' legacy, but Apple going down would mean trouble for us. I'll stay in a Christmas mood.)
David Coursey blogs for PCWorld.com