Apple Says Good-Bye to Macworld

It's the end of an era. The 2009 edition of Macworld will be its last, Apple announced on Tuesday. Additionally, Steve Jobs will not be giving the keynote.

Now Apple doesn't run Macworld, IDG does. But pulling out of Macworld may in fact be the death knell for the show.

It was noted at this year's WWDC that Jobs was less of a front-and-center presence at the show. There was a suspicion that Jobs might skip Macworld as there had been no announcement of a keynote by him yet, as in previous years.
Apple today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.

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.

What Apple seems to be saying is, "we no longer need Macworld; we have many alternative ways to reach the public." While that may be true, Macworld was the only event that fans off the street could attend via reasonably priced tickets.

It also means that Apple will focus on their own dedicated events, such as WWDC and this year's "Let's Rock" iPod event. Before people freak out about Jobs' absence and attribute it to health problems, Apple representative Steve Dowling told C|Net:
"Phil is giving the keynote because this will be Apple's last year at the show. It doesn't make sense for us to make a major investment in a trade show we will no longer be attending."
That of course, leads to still more speculation. Does it mean:
  1. Philip Schiller is Jobs' heir apparent?
  2. Apple has nothing sigificant to launch at the event?
2) might be right, 1), who knows? We'll see.