With the immense popularity of Apple and its bastion of fans that border on fanatical at times, there often comes an over scrutinizing of the company's moves.
In particular, over the past year there has been much speculation as to the state of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ health. Jobs went through a very private battle with typically deadly pancreatic cancer several years ago and appeared to recover and be looking healthy the last couple years. This year, however, some observers have opined that they think Jobs is looking sick and the disease may have reappeared and be worsening.
In an ironic twist one newspaper even printed Jobs' obituary. Apple has mostly refused to respond to these rumors, but when it has it has issued sharp denials that this is the case.
Given this background, when Mr. Jobs announced his decision to cancel his yearly keynote at the MacWorld trade show many jumped to the conclusion that the rumors were true and his illness was to blame.
Apple announced the development this week, revealing that Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will take Jobs' place and deliver the keynote at Macworld Expo in San Francisco on January 6th, 2009. In the past Mr. Jobs had always been on hand, typically to introduce new products; last year he had introduced the MacBook Air at the trade show's keynote address.
However, the real reason of Mr. Jobs exit appears to be more politics than health.
Trade shows' significance in the market has waned noticeably this year, partially due to the tough economy. The word from Apple came just after Adobe announced it would not be attending MacWorld anymore. With Belkin, Seagate, and Google also pulling out or downsizing their appearances, the fate of the show, according to some is at risk.
Along with the announcement that Mr. Jobs would not be there comes even more surprising news, which seems to verify that the cancellation was politics -- Apple will not exhibit at MacWorld next year. Apple cites an improved direct relationship with its customer through its website as negating the need for the show, stating:
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.
By exiting MacWorld an independent show, Apple stands to gain a tighter control on its public platform, with control something Apple always yearns for.
Despite these turn of events MacWorld's organizer IDG says MacWorld 2010 is still on -- with or without Apple. It states that it "Look(s) forward to many successful years of Macworld to come."