Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Apple Will Hold Their Final Macworld Keynote Without Jobs

On Tuesday Apple announced their final Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address would be delivered by Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, and not CEO Steve Jobs. In typical Apple fashion there was no direct explanation of why Jobs has opted not to appear this year, which as always led to rampant rumors and speculation over Jobs' health.

Now that the wildfire has subsided a bit and some of the speculation has calmed we are getting a more level headed view of things. Needham & Co said, "Our reliable sources, which we spoke with this fall, indicated that [Steve] Jobs is cancer free." Wolf speculated that Apple wants to introduce new products on their own schedule, and not feel the need to meet demand to have something new at every Macworld.

Several other analysts and websites have speculated that Apple's decision may be related to a lack of new products to announce. It may simply be that Apple doesn't have a blockbuster up it's sleeve this year and they have decided to pull back on the reigns a little. Apple's Steve Dowling says that since “this will be our last year, it doesn’t make sense for us to make a major investment in a trade show that will we no longer be attending.” The announcement of the Macworld withdraw seems to back that sentiment:
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 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.

Either way the speculation over Jobs' health hit Apple's stock pretty hard today with a 6.5% drop. The stock was downgraded by Oppenheimer & Co. from "outperform" to "perform". Off course this isn't new to investors, any time Jobs' health comes into question we see a major drop in Apple shares. MacDailyNews asks, "Has Steve Jobs become too much of a liability for Apple shareholders?" Even going so far as calling for a return of the UpTick rule.

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