MacPainful: Apple Bows Out of Macworld Expo
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It's the end of an era.
Apple announced on Tuesday after the upcoming January 6-9, 2009 event, it will no longer exhibit at the venerable Macworld Expo conference. In a release, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said it has steadily been scaling back on its trade show appearances. "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 release stated.
For those Mac fans planning to attend January's event in San Francisco, there was more bad news. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller will give the keynote instead of CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs high energy, hype-filled keynotes have been a staple of the show for years, usually punctuated by big product announcements.
While speculation about new products is usually rampant in the weeks leading up to each Macworld Expo, the rumor mill has been pretty quiet for this show.
There's talk Apple will introduce a more powerful version of its entry level Mac Mini and Schiller may preview the next version of the Mac's operating system, codenamed Snow Leopard. Apple already refreshed its MacBook notebook line in October.
There's no buzz about any other new desktop hardware beyond an update to the Mac Mini, but you can never rule out Apple making a surprise announcement. There is some talk Apple is getting ready to introduce a lower-cost version of its hot-selling iPhone.
Apple typically doesn't confirm Jobs' appearance at Macworld Expo until a few weeks before the event, so this late notice isn't unusual. But Jobs has been the keynoter for most of the Macworld Expos, which up until recently ran twice a year, with one in Boston and one in San Francisco. Macworld Expo is a property of tech publisher IDG.
Analyst and longtime Apple-watcher Tim Bajarin said the announcement didn't surprise him. "Once Apple developed the Apple Stores and put money into driving traffic there, Macworld Expo just wasn't giving it the return on investment it did in the early days," Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com. "And if Steve calls a meeting or event for a product rollout, it gets just as much buzz and media attention."
Another factor is scheduling. Bajarin notes Apple set the expectation of new product news at Macworld Expo which limited its flexibility. "They need to need to announce products when they can deliver them, not based on show dates," Bajarin said.
Gartner analyst Charles Smulders also noted the timing issue. For the past several years, the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has been the same week as Macworld Expo, dividing some of the potential audience for Apple products.
Macworld Expo has attracted some 40,000 attendee in recent years. Although it also lost mainstay Adobe as an exhibitor for this next event, show organizers said they have over 500 exhibitors.