Five (possible) reasons why Jobs will not be at Macworld

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Opinion – Plenty of rumors are once again preceding the opening of Macworld 2009 in San Francisco today. Most expect a netbook or tablet PC-like product to be unveiled, but there is a certain disappointment that this will be the final Macworld conference and that Apple CEO Steve Jobs won’t be holding the keynote. Rumors were to be expected, especially those speculating about Jobs’ health, but there are a few other pre-Macworld thoughts why Jobs may have handed the honor of addressing Apple fans to Phil Schiller.

Macworld is always a busy time for those who try to sort out and analyze rumors about possible new products. There is no other tradeshow that sparks a similar level of excitement among tech enthusiasts, analysts and journalists and some will the see the cancellation of Macworld with teary eyes. This last Macworld, however, is different. Most of the attention focuses on Steve Jobs and Apple’s decision to give the keynote to Phil Schiller.

If you are still scratching your head why Jobs won’t close this last Macworld, here's some food for thought. We do not claim that any of these five reasons are fact.

1. Apple’s official reason: It isn’t worth the investment

TG Daily’s take: Apple said it's been “steadily scaling back” its investment in tradeshows over the past years and its decision not to be at Macworld may just have financial reasons. And there is some substance to that claim. There's no denying that the big tradeshows are dying. Remember Comdex? E3? Even CES was hit at its core this year and we could only imagine virtual tradeshows emerging soon – tradeshows on your computer screen that replace traditional tradeshows. Intel has done it already and we are actually wondering why other companies or tradeshow organizers aren't following that trend as well.

So, financial reasons sound reasonable, but that really doesn't answer the question directly why Jobs won’t be there. Conclusion: Financial reasons make sense, but we don’t buy this as the entire story.

2. Phil Schiller will become Apple’s new CEO

TG Daily’s take: There are few opportunities for Apple to introduce a new chief executive, especially when Steve Jobs attracts all the attention at Apple as its one-man-show. Apple has clearly missed building up a #2 executive behind Steve Jobs in time. Most of the firm’s image is still based on Jobs' reputation as the firm’s brain. There are few in this industry who could replace Jobs and it does not take much talent to predict that his departure, which will happen sooner or later, will impact Apple’s stock when it is announced. But why not take that hit when the stock is down anyway?

We don't know Schiller personally, but from what we do know we believe he lacks the necessary charisma to replace Jobs. However, Schiller, who is currently senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, has been given more and more stage time at recent Apple events. So, it is entirely possible that he will be introduced as Apple’s new CEO today. Conclusion: Schiller will succeed Jobs as Apple’s next CEO. Whether or not that's the right choice is a different question.

3. Steve Jobs deteriorating health

TG Daily’s take: Of course, a replacement for Jobs could spark more speculation about why Jobs is actually dropping out. The health rumors will come back up again and Apple’s PR has to take a portion of the blame about why that rumor simply won’t go away. I am not aware of any other PR department in a major tech company that ignores common sense when dealing with the majority of journalists as much as Apple’s staff does. On the other hand, I am getting a bit tired of the persistent Jobs health rumors. It is Jobs’ private matter and should be left alone. However, I also hope that Apple’s official statement about Jobs’ health condition is accurate.

In the end, Jobs is a corporate officer. Can you imagine the wave and force of lawsuits Apple will face if the company lied about Jobs’ health? Conclusion: Jobs is just fine.

4. Steve Jobs is tired of the repetition, tired of describing the next Apple product as “gorgeous”

TG Daily’s take: We here at TG Daily have always admired Jobs for a sales talent, one enabling him to sell virtually anything to anyone. I have personally sat several times in the audience of Macworld keynotes and have to admit that I did not pay so much attention to the products, but to Jobs' stage presence and vocabulary. They always seemed to create a sensation out of a piece of plastic, one Microsoft couldn't sell in 100 years. But at the same time I always felt bad for him that he had to deliver basically the same speeches over and over again. Topics such as the most recent quarterly result; iTunes, iPod and Mac shipment numbers and a few new products that somehow were always described as “gorgeous”.

Could it be that Jobs is simply sick of holding these keynotes? Considering what he has achieved with Apple over the past decade, and considering the difficulties he's had with his health, I'm reasonably sure he's wondered more than once why he still puts up with the daily trouble - including investigations from the SEC.

It is time for Jobs to step down, enjoy life and join the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spending some of his wealth on mankind. Conclusion: Giving up a monumental achievement like Apple is tough. We doubt Jobs will just relax and enjoy the Ocean view from his house and become a gardening enthusiast.
 

5. Steve Jobs will be Barack Obama’s CTO

TG Daily’s take:  So, if Jobs really does retire from Apple, he may just spend his time on philanthropic efforts. But there is a new rumor that made me sit back and think. It's no secret that President-elect Barack Obama has been looking for a “CTO”, whatever that may mean, and it is clear Obama will need a fresh, popular, trusted and charismatic face for that position.

There is now some speculation that Jobs may have been offered that post. Given the early January-date of Macworld and Obama’s inauguration ceremony following a few days later, there is at least the idea that the timing would fit. There may be some questions that need to be resolved though, regarding Jobs' investment in Apple, his bias towards Apple’s rivals, etc. But there is no question that Jobs would have the charisma to fill the requirements of this job.

It's an interesting thought. Conclusion: We have no idea whether Jobs would even want that job, but there is no doubt that Jobs’ huge influence in global technology would be of benefit to Obama and that Jobs could change the way we think about technology in this country.