SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple (AAPL.O) said on Tuesday that Chief Executive Steve Jobs will not deliver the keynote address at the Macworld trade show next month, reviving concerns about the state of his health.
Apple also said 2009 will be the last year it exhibits at Macworld, claiming that trade shows are a “minor” way it reaches customers.
Instead of Jobs, Philip Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, will deliver the keynote.
Asked whether the change was related to Jobs’ health, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said: “Phil is giving the keynote because this will be Apple’s last year at the show, and it doesn’t make sense for us to make a major investment in a trade show we’ll no longer be attending.”
In September, Jobs, who is often perceived as irreplaceable as Apple’s leader, appeared thin but jaunty as he introduced new iPod digital music players.
Investors have been concerned about the cancer survivor’s health after he appeared thin at another product launch in June. In 2004, Jobs, 53, said he had undergone successful surgery to remove a rare type of pancreatic cancer.
“It’s like the first time in a long time he hasn’t spoken in Macworld,” said Samuel Wilson, an analyst at JMP Securities. “Why is he not speaking this year would be the question.”
Macworld draws thousands of Apple fans and technology aficionados to San Francisco, where they have been treated to major announcements from Jobs in past years.
“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 company said in statement.
Last year, the event saw the launch of the MacBook Air, the company’s ultrathin portable computer. In 2007, it was the first version of the iPhone.
Reporting by Gabriel Madway; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe