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Steve Jobs to Skip Macworld — And It Gets Worse

December 16, 2008 | Chris Maxcer | Comments 0

By Chris Maxcer

Uh oh. It’s hard to find a positive spin for this news: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is skipping out on the Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address in early January, and what’s worse, the event will mark the last time Apple even exhibits at all.

Late this afternoon, amid speculation over the lack of a concrete confirmation that Jobs would indeed give the keynote address, as he has in many years past, Apple released a short statement noting that Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, which will also be the last keynote at the show.

So yes, that’s right, we’re talking about three strikes here: 1) Jobs won’t keynote, 2) this is the last time Apple will exhibit, and 3) Apple won’t even show up to keynote in the future.

Ouch.

Despite the fact that Apple has spent gobs of money exhibiting at Macworld, not to mention decorating San Francisco’s Moscone Center with banners and signage where the event is held, the expo and conference doesn’t belong to Apple. It’s an IDG World Expo event.

The big question is why? And then, why now?

Jobs and Apple has been dogged by concerns over his health for years — in 2004, he announced that he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which was treated successfully; however, any time he has looked thin or tired publicly, it has sparked new rumors of poor health. Cutting to the chase, might Jobs be sick?

There’s no telling. Even if he caught a cold, appearing at Macworld and sneezing on stage might be worse than not appearing at all.

Apple’s Public Reasoning

Apple’s statement did offer some excuses.

“Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.

Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.”

These statements are certainly true — Apple’s retail stores are astoundingly successful, as is the company’s web site.

Still, why didn’t Apple quote Jobs directly in its press release? A simple and direct statement from Jobs would certainly have helped tamp down speculation. Or better yet, why hasn’t Jobs offered up a QuickTime video? All he’d have to do is look at the camera, smile, and say, “Hey, here’s the deal: we’re scaling back, and I’m spending time with my family. Plus, Phil’s the man, and this year he’s the guy who gets to say, ‘One more thing’. He’s earned it.”

Of course, by attempting to not draw too much attention to Macworld, Apple may be trying to not only avoid spending money on the event, but trying to slip out without doing any accidental damage to the Macworld event — as if that were possible. Without a massive Apple presence, there’s a good chance the Macworld Conference & Expo will die.

Plus, with so many fanboys attempting to ferret out rumors 24/7 these days, it’s become increasingly difficult for Apple to maintain secrecy over a new product launch. To make matters worse, being tied to a public announce schedule — as in, Apple must have something cool to show off every January — the company must certainly have an even harder time keeping the lid on what’s coming.

Let’s put it this way: If you were Apple and you were able to get reporters on the East Coast to fly out to California on short notice so you could make an announcement — like the latest iteration of the iPod and iTunes — why would you bother with anyone else’s trade shows?

Filed Under: Apple Action

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About the Author: Chris Maxcer is editor and publisher of WickedCoolTech.com. He's been writing about the tech industry for years. While he enjoys wicked cool gear and design, there's something to be said for turning it all off — or most of it — to go outside. To contact him, take a firstname.lastname guess at wickedcooltech.com.

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