If you thought that calm would prevail – at least for a few months – at Apple Computer Inc now that NeXT Software Inc was in the bag and Gilbert Amelio had replaced every one of the former top brass with his own appointees, think again. The company’s share price has come off the bottom, edging up to a still paltry $17, but only because rumor and gossip continue to swirl around its Cupertino headquarters. Things can hardly be held to be stable when one of Amelio’s key – and most high-profile – appointees, Ellen Hancock, is almost certainly on the way out again. Firming up the story that Steve Jobs wanted her out of her research and development post (CI No 3,105), PC Week reckons that after only the briefest of tenures, she is already negotiating terms of a severance package in preparation for her resignation. She was hired as chief technology officer last summer, but has lost much of her empire in the latest restructuring, left with only reliability and quality. Ms Hancock left IBM Corp after 30 years when Louis Gerstner was ins- talled and her way to the top appeared to be blocked, but she has not found a happy berth since IBM. Rather more sensationally, the San Francisco Chronicle and Fortune magazine are suggesting that the acquisition of NeXT Software is beginning to look more like a reverse takeover of Apple by its co-founder Steve Jobs, and that Jobs may bring in Oracle Corp chief executive Larry Ellison to help him take full control of Apple. The other gossip that its energizing the shares is that the threatened job cuts will be nearer 5,000 that the 3,000 figure that has been widely canvassed – although Amelio has denied the figure. Fortune goes on to suggest that developing Pentium-based Apples able to run both Windows and the NeXT-based next-generation Mac operating system Rhapsody is now high on Apple’s list of priorities thanks to Jobs. It also says that cheap plug-in cards to make Macs compatible with PCs are already coming.