16 December, 2008

Apple says 2009 MacWorld to be its last, Keynote sans Steve Jobs

Spin the panic wheels and beat the panic drums, Apple (AAPL) is pulling out of MacWorld. For years the marquee event for most Apple faithful, 2009 will unfortunately be the company's last hurrah.  On top of that, stock holders should feel some momentum pain as Steve Jobs will not be giving the Keynote speech at the final circling of the wagons.

The reasons given by the company were clear. Apple's too big now and too global to succumb to the whims of trade shows. Granted the corporate speak was a little more amiable.  With iPhone sweeping the globe, the AppStore a certified hit and Mac's selling in record numbers in a multitude of demographic and geographic segments, the company is actually right on the money.

The rumor-mills and press brigades will be sad to see the company go from the spotlight of MacWorld, but if this year has been any indication Apple continues to innovate and send out their darling press invites for more intimate Q&A sessions to show off new products or services. There's nothing in today's announcements to suggest these will not continue either.

While this announcement will cause a bit of a sell-off, likely led by the lingering questions of Steve Jobs health, it is clear Apple is shifting the power structure, or more so the perception of the power-structure of the company. The last press events have seen Jobs take a much smaller role in presenting and explaining. Even though I feel Apple is a much stronger stock and company than say Microsoft, I do see Apple taking a similar approach in moving Jobs into a "Chief Apple something" role in the future so that the company can be eventually transitioned with someone else as CEO.

Yes Jobs is a huge part of Apple's uprising and a huge part of the vision of the company, however with its market position, its small (albeit growing push and need for the enterprise) and its multiple product platform (iPods, computers, phones, music distribution, application distribution etc.) and its massive cash horde the prudent thing to do would be to position this "flier-momentum" company into its next phase of growth on a more even plane.  And that's shifting away from shows, doing product releases and showcases on their own terms and moving along with other potential acquisitions.

All Apple faithful love Jobs for everything he has done for the company and I don't think this is directly related to his health at all, but rather a move to begin to transition the spotlight to others at Apple. The sheer shock from "change" is enough to send Apple lowered, but investors should stay confident for a stronger than expected 2009 and beyond for the stock and the company as a whole.

Disclosure: Author is long AAPL

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