in an announcement that’s taken every one by surprise, Apple has announced this is the last year that they’ll be participating in the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. And if that wasn’t news in and of itself, the company also announced that showman extraordinaire Steve Jobs would not be delivering the keynote speech this year. Instead, keynote duties fall with Phil Shiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwild Product Marketing.
Apple’s surprise announcement comes fresh on the heels of news that Macworld mainstays such as Adobe and Belkin would not be setting up booths. Other companies, such as Google, also indicated that they would be scaling back their involvement with the trade show that has taken on an almost mystical auroa the past few years.
The company noted in a press release:
“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.”
This is clearly an interesting move that might have some Apple pundits wondering if somethings afoot. Apple’s departure from Macworld can be explained, and even though it puts an end to a long tradition, a strong argument can be made that it’s a decision that makes sense. But more noteworthy is the fact that Steve Jobs won’t be delivering the farewell address at Macworld. Perhaps Jobs doesn’t see the point in having an Apple presence at Macworld, and therefore feels that him not showing up is no big deal. Or, perhaps Apple has nothing spectacular lined up for Macworld and doesn’t want to hype up the event beyond realistic expectations. Or, and I hate to jump on this train of thought, perhaps Jobs is simply not in good enough health to be on stage, standing and talking for a few hours. Either way, Jobs’ absence from Macworld is extremely puzzling, and Apple’s recent decision inevitably spells doom for one of Apple’s great traditions.
Not surprisingly, Apple’s stock has taken a hit in after-hours trading as news of its press release spread.