Apple To Pull Out Of Macworld Expo : The End Of An Era

Apple has announced that next year's Macworld in San Francisco will be its last as the firm confirmed its iconic CEO, Steve Jobs, will not be delivering his annual keynote speech, missing his eleventh and last one.

Phillip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing, will instead fill his boots and deliver what some fear will be a lackluster performance.

Jobs sudden announcement also prompted more rumours (and fears) that he could still be suffering from health problems that plagued him during the last few years.

Macworld Expo has been in the limelight in the past two years for the release of the iPhone in 2007 and the Macbook Air earlier this year but there are speculations that the current economic downturn could force Apple to review its products roadmap.

The company has already scaled back on trade shows and events such as the NAB broadcasters' show, Macworld New York and Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.

Canning the high profile Macworld Expo could be a bridge too far though as it is the focal point of Mac Afficionados worldwide; this makes Apple's decision even more perplexing.

Apple pointed out, in a press release, to the fact that it is now "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" and added that its stores are visited by nearly 190 million people annually and its website reach more than 100 million potential customers

Apple closed up a fraction yesterday but the shares were down nearly 2 percent in pre-market transactions.

Our Comments

The rise of the web has all but killed tech trade shows (along with tech magazines) with casualties including Comdex and the ever shrinking Cebit, which during its heyday counted more than 700,000 visitors but will be lucky to get 1/4 of that next year. And the current global economic turmoil could make things even worst.

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Without Macworld, how will Apple create the buzz?