Why won’t Steve Jobs deliver Apple’s last Macworld Expo keynote?

“Apple has announced that Steve Jobs will not be doing the keynote at this year’s Macworld show, and that this will be the last year Apple attends the tradeshow that has been the venue for so many famous Steve Jobs keynotes,” Peter Burrows reports for BusinessWeek.

“Of course, the first thought goes to Jobs’ health. The company declined to comment directly as to whether this was the reason marketing chief Phil Schiller will be doing the keynote, instead of Jobs. Rather, spokesman 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,'” Burrows reports.

“I pray that Jobs’ health is fine, but this reasoning isn’t very convincing. If there was ever a good trade show-related investment for a company, it’s Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote. It pretty much guarantees headlines in major newspapers and business publication around the world, and has the added benefit of stealing the thunder from the throngs at the Consumer Electronics Show, often held the same week. Personally, I would think that Apple would have gone the other way: guarantee even more publicity by hyping the opportunity to see Jobs’ last Macworld performance,” Burrows reports.

“Of course, there could be a reason unrelated to cancer to explain why Jobs is leaving the keynote duties to Schiller: that it won’t be much of a show, in terms of product news… Either way, this is a very bad day for the tradeshow business,” Burrows reports. “I also wonder whether there is a far more practical reason for pulling out of Macworld. Rather than spend every December in a forced march to finish products and polish his presentation for the early January event, he and Apple’s employees may be able to actually enjoy the holiday season a bit. Let’s hope that’s the reason for Apple’s decision, and not anything to do with Jobs’ health.”

More in the full article here.


  1. I was at two Apple stores yesterday – not very busy at all. No computer sales going out the door. It was far busier in August/September and generally speaking Christmas season should be booming. I passed by Best Buy yesterday and the Sony Style stores and computers where selling. The iMac and Mac Pro are in dire need of a refresh and doing so after the holidays will hurt Apple. If this is Apple’s last presence at the MacWorld Expo, Steve Jobs should be there – to make a lasting impression and to give Apple a boost it so needs. I am pretty shocked that Mr. Jobs will not be attending. Disappointed. I was looking forward to his speech and now won’t bother. I will just log onto here to see what new products came about after the show. His speeches get the crowd / followers going.

  2. @marco

    LOL, your so full of sh*t. I travel a lot and every Apple store I’ve visited is always either moderately busy or super busy. iPhone, iPod, Touch and computers constantly coming out of the stores. Go back and hang out at your Sony or DELL store… oh wait, you can’t there aint much left for those idiots.

  3. @marco
    Retail stores will always be busier than an Apple store. Apple only sells computers and ipod/iphones and accessories. You can get them at best buy and some of them sell Mac’s but they also sell movies and TV’s, cell phones, car audio…

  4. Seems like Steve has issues with the MacWorld folks, so why won’t he appear at the event? Steve does not want to help them boost there attendance. Apple announces this is the last expo for them and delivers the minimum keynote. Think what it would have been like if this was going to be the last SteveNote that place would have been packed to the rafters. Steve is not sick just making a power play.

  5. Among the first major actions by Jobs upon his return was a cultural change whereby the Sales management was removed as the controlling factor in determining product lines and cycles.

    The Macworld trade show served a greater purpose serving the ecosystem of software and hardware companies who chose to serve the Apple market.

    My gut tells me to never forget who made this decision – Jobs. Many people are truly in a chicken little mode – the sky is falling, chaos everywhere. Jobs is already past this and is making the decisions so the company is properly position for when the media tells everyone to be happy again.

    If Apple cares to participate in a trade show event, Jobs knows they are strong enough to now dominate CES rather than have a little boutique show of their own. He also knows that his culture shift to being a Product driven (not Sales) decision making company is complete. Product calls the shots, not the calendar, and not the hustlers.

  6. there are two questions here:

    1. why saying you will not attend in 2010, now, 3 weeks before the expo? why not in july 2009, so everyone can plan accordingly and longterm

    2. why doesn’t give steve the LAST keynote?

    there are only two possible answers to the second question:

    1. they have nothing to show and steve doesn’t want to invest that much time and energy in a lackluster keynote


    2. he is ill

    instead of giving us answers, apple’s press department opens the floddgates of speculation. and there is another problem going on here: people don’t believe apple’s press anouncements anymore. they only raise questions instead of answering them. bad move, apple.

  7. @marco

    Uh, Apple have already ‘refreshed’ the iMac and Mac Pro lines. If anything, those will get speed and hardware upgrades rather than wholesale revisions — if that’s what you meant.

    Plus, sales slowing in ONE store aren’t really indicative of a national trend. To be honest, I’m sure many will carefully consider any future computer purchases but Apple isn’t about to go out of business from it.

    As for Steve’s lack of attendance, he probably just wants to allow Phil some time in the spotlight. Heck, the keynote will perhaps have another ‘SteveStatus’ slide detailing his heartrate, GPS location and current mood, or something; perhaps he’ll even appear on the big screen like Bill did in ’97.

  8. Marco just reported some untypical data (few people in the Apple stores he visited), but so did jtc (retail stores will always be busy). In my walk around, there were more people in the small Apple store than in the entire ground floor of Macy’s. In isolation, these reports are anecdotal and don’t mean a lot, but overall, Apple stores usually have 25 to 40 shoppers. I’ve never seen more than 5 people in a Sony, Polo Ralph Lauren, or Williams Sonoma (vastly overpriced kitchenware) stores.

  9. @ Tom

    Well said. Almost all the speculation we are going to hear in the next month or two about Jobs’ health etc. is going to be as bogus and as mal-intentioned as this article IMO.

    At each of the last three product announcements, Jobs gave an increasing nod, and and an increasing level of participation to Shiller and friends. So why not give Shiller the whole deal for the last event? There is nothing unusual about this at all and if not for Steve’s thin appearance this move would hardly even be worthy of comment.

    It’s obviously a negative for the companies fortunes to be tied to Steve’s health, especially when it’s not even true that he is unhealthy and yet the stock price tanks on idle speculation anyway (as above.) Whether Steve is healthy or not, the prudent move for Apple, is to separate the two issues just as a matter of course.

    Even if Steve lives to be a hundred, there will come a point long before that when he ceases to be the sexiest or most effective pitchman they could find or use. He has to move aside at some point, even if he later returns.

    I would bet that Apple has a far *better* way of making product announcements in store. Apple rarely gets rid of one thing or one part of their operation and puts nothing in it’s place. Often they come out of left field with a totally new idea to replace the thing they have taken away.

  10. Man, I was in an Apple store 2 weeks ago, and I couldn’t believe all of the people in there. The rest of the Mall was semi busy, but you had to push your way through the Apple store.

    May be just the area. We only have 3 Apple stores in the Portland area.

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