WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- This sad week for American commerce was punctuated with a question from the media: would Apple ( AAPL) do well without Steve Jobs? Yes? Or no? Black? Or white?

With apologies to The Wall Street Journal ( NWS) and most other media outlets asking the question in such stark and simplistic terms--they are missing the point.

Unless you are making a distinction between short and long-term, you cannot even start to theorize on how Apple with forge on without Jobs. Here's the deal: Jobs was a singular leader. He led Apple in three separate realms: marketing, design and management.

As a marketer, he will be missed immediately. He was a peerless promoter: PT Barnum meets the microchip. In that way, he will be missed short and long-term.

As a designer, Jobs will not be missed over the short-haul. Apple already has a stable of new products. There is a good chance, though, that his design vision will be missed long-term.

In terms of management, too, any loss will only be felt over the long-run, though probably less than in marketing and design, which Jobs held dearest.

Where does this leave Apple? Short-term: in fairly good stead. But long-term, the media has been far too quick to jump to ready conclusions, both positive and negative. Sometimes it's best to shrug. Currently, there is no metaphysical way to tell. Traders need to fix on those long-term issues--especially marketing and design--and take a wait-and-see approach. Anyone who proffers a ready answer on Apple's long-term prospects? Well, I have a bridge in Cupertino to sell you.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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