This is just in – 2009 will be the last year that Apple (NASD: AAPL) will exhibit at IDG’s MacWorld Expo, and Steve Jobs will not hold his signature keynote (which usually steals some of the thunder from the rest of the tech crowd gathered in Las Vegas for CES). Instead Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote. The reason, according to Apple’s spin doctors, is that the company believes that expos and trade shows like the one hosted by IDG, parent company of the Macworld brand, are a twentieth century fad of little value to Apple with its popular consumer products and marketing reach:
"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," the company said in a statement posted to its website.
It’s a bold move, but is it really in the best interests of the company and its customers? Apple often opts to stay away from industry events and not engage in debates about the future direction of consumer electronics, technology and digital entertainment. Fine, but how much longer is the lone wolf strategy going to work? And is it smart to give Apple’s biggest fans gathered at MacWorld the cold shoulder? I’m sorry, but it is just not the same to experience watching Jobs in person at MacWorld as it is going to look at an iPhone in the Apple store or on the Apple website. Aside from raising more questions about his long-term health, this move further removes Steve Jobs from the public eye. Stock market analysts have long called for something of a succession plan for Jobs at Apple, but so far those questions have not been addressed in a satisfactory way. Immediately after the announcement, Apple’s stock fell by nearly 2% in after-hours trading.
"In business, perception is everything. So it’s tantamount that Steve get up on stage and keep up the image. Macworld is still a huge media event, mainly his keynote," an analyst said to The Guardian.
Image by Danny Novo