In a big, and very surprising, move, Apple has announced that next month’s Macworld will be its last. After 2009 the company will no longer participate in the gathering, and also said that company head Steve Jobs won’t be offering the keynote address in January.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the BBC:
"Apple is steadily scaling back on trade shows and in recent years is reaching more people in more ways than ever before."
"Every week 3.5 million people visit our retail stores. And like many companies, trade shows are a minor part of how Apple reaches its customers."
He also pointed out that "stand-alone launch events like the September iPod launch seen by millions of people on the internet."
However, the news that Jobs won’t make his usual speech has raised speculation that he’s suffered a recurrence of the cancer that struck him four years ago. At the Apple world wide developer conference in June he looked gaunt, which raised plenty of rumors, and he appeared before a screen with the Mark Twain quote – “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” – referring to the obituary about him that had mistakenly been published.
But with Apple sales largely flat, is this withdrawal from the big trade show the right move? Investors didn’t think so, with shares falling 5% to $99.44 on the news.