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Steve Jobs drops out of Macworld, Apple to drop after January*

December 16, 2008 |  3:06 pm
Steve Jobs

Breaking with a long tradition, Apple today said Steve Jobs would not present the keynote at January's Macworld Conference & Expo, the venue where the Cupertino, Calif., company has historically chosen to unveil new products for more than a decade.

Instead, Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, will deliver the opening address at Macworld on Jan. 6 in San Francisco. Next month's Macworld will also be Apple's last, the company said in a statement. Here's an excerpt:

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.

Apple's shares dropped more than 4% to $91 in after-hours trading following the announcement.

The news triggered fresh rumors about Jobs' health; he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. It also sparked concern over the fate of Macworld, a show that attracted about 50,000 attendees this year in January. Jobs used that show to debut the MacBook Air, touted to be the thinnest laptop computer at the time.

* Updated at 3:15: "Their pulling out of Macworld is not a surprise," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies in Campbell, Calif. "They’ve been talking about it for two years. Trade shows do not deliver the same return on investment that they did in the past. And Apple is finding that their stores are much better at driving sales than a once-a-year shot at Macworld."

Bajarin said the move put Macworld in a precarious position. "It’s going to make it much more difficult for Macworld to thrive without Apple as the anchor exhibitor," he said.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air at Macworld in January 2008. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

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