Steve Jobs Lives; Macworld Won't
Apple's last Macworld Expo starts tomorrow, but a lot of the suspense has already been taken out of the show. This morning, chief executive Steve Jobs put out an open letter on Apple's Web site to address questions about his health that have resurfaced since the company announced that Jobs would not present his traditional keynote at the convention, and that the company would not participate in Macworld at all after this year.
Jobs' letter boils down to "no, I'm not dying, but I am ill, and so I'm not up to doing the keynote." He explains that, as many onlookers have noted, he's "been losing weight throughout 2008" but didn't get an explanation until last month:
Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause--a hormone imbalance that has been "robbing" me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.
The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment. But, just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple's CEO during my recovery.
And that's the most you'll get out of him on the matter. Jobs concludes the letter this way: "So now I've said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this."
Apple's board of directors released an accompanying statement, saying, among other things, that:
if there ever comes a day when Steve wants to retire or for other reasons cannot continue to fulfill his duties as Apple's CEO, you will know it.
My initial reaction is something along the lines of "was that so hard?" Apple is one of the few companies around that can justify compensating its chief executive as if he were directly responsible for much of the company's success. Jobs is not only Apple's best salesman -- by all accounts he's also one of the toughest critics of its own products. Given the importance of Jobs' work to Apple's broader fortunes, he and the company were asking for trouble to stick to their characteristic silence about his health (even if some of the rumors thrown around were just silly).
So with that out of the way, what other news will Apple commit at the Moscone Center tomorrow? MacRumors.com posted a summary of current speculation yesterday. I think it makes sense for Apple to update the Mac mini and the iMac; both (but especially the mini) have gone long enough with a revision that they're simply due for a change. Some sort of in-depth demonstration of Apple's next version of Mac OS X also makes sense in terms of timing.
That report does not, however, include any news about two important parts of Apple's digital-media strategy that have been neglected recently: the Apple TV and iTunes Plus. The company must have something to say on these two topics, right?
We'll find out tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific. In the meantime, what are you expecting or hoping to see at Macworld? Post your predictions, guesses and wishes in the comments!
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