- 18 Dec 08, 09:35 GMT
Apple's decision to withdraw from future Macworld Expo's after January's is done and dusted has stunned Mac lovers who flock here year after year almost as part of a pilgrimage. The journey is twofold. To hear about new products the company believes will change the world and to listen and watch Apple guru Steve Jobs weave his magic on stage.
Well at least the fans are being given the chance to revel in all things Apple this one last time. But it truly won't be the same because as well as saying sayonara to the Mac gig, Mr Jobs has decided to pull the plug on presenting the keynote speech at the conference.
He certainly seemed to delight in these set pieces of theatre and the waves of cheers and applause that generally greets his every utterance. So I guess this aspect, among many, makes one ponder why he decided not to give a swansong performance this one last time.
Of course we know there is lots of speculation about his health following a bout of pancreatic cancer four years ago. The issue raised its head earlier this year when Mr Jobs appeared thin and gaunt at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
And while he refused to discuss the issue, or let anyone at Apple discuss it publicly, there was the faux pas by one publication in printing his untimely demise. At least the Apple CEO was able to see the funny side of it all when he appeared at an iPod launch in September in front of a giant screen highlighting talk of his death.
But the rumours about his health never went away, and now they have been reignited with this latest piece of news.
When I asked Apple spokesman Steve Dowling about Mr Jobs' health, I thought the line had gone dead because of the silence at the other end. No amount of questions on the topic allicited a response.
Alas that just leaves people like me, analysts, bloggers, Mac fans and so on and so on to fill the vacuum. And there is nothing a story loves more than a vacuum because that is when all sorts of theories are cast among us and allowed to take seed.
Of course there is another theory that has taken root of late and that is that Mr Jobs is looking to help groom a successor. While he may well continue to be a pitchman for Apple at other standalone events, he may slowly pass the reigns of power to others in the company.
So come on down Phil Schiller, who is Apple's head honcho of product marketing, who will stand in for Mr Jobs by presenting the keynote speech at Macworld. No pressure on him then!
Another theory for Mr Jobs' reluctance to take centre stage is that Apple doesn't have much of anything to announce come January. Previous Macworlds have spawned the iPhone, iTunes and the MacBook Air book amongst others.
Whatever the reason for Mr Jobs' no show decision he and the company have succeeded in one thing; everyone is talking about them.
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