The Death Of MacWorld

December 17, 2008

Apple dropped a bombshell yesterday, saying Steve Jobs will not present the MacWorld 2009 keynote and it would be Apple’s last attendance at MacWorld.

Needless to say, when I first read that press release, I felt a mix of shock, annoyance, anger, and tears. Yes, I’m an Apple fanboy. But I’ve now moved into the acceptance phase.

Let me start with the fallout: Basically after this year, as far as I’m concerned, MacWorld is over. There’s no point in attending the trade show without Apple, and if Apple isn’t at future MacWorlds, this will be the last one I ever attend.

The second effect is lowered expectations: Apple has nothing revolutionary to announce. There will be no iPhone 4G, iTablet, or MultiTouch iMac. Expectations have been submarined.

But the biggest effect is the end of the huge, media circus atmosphere surrounding the MacWorld keynote. In the past, Apple used the January MacWorld keynote to its advantage, announcing some big products, in particular the iMac, Safari, the Mac Mini, and the iPhone. As a result, expectations for the MacWorld keynote have arguably been blown out of proportion.

But despite these changes, Apple will be just fine. They have the ability to hold their own special media events, and at any time of the year. They will have more control over the message. They could conceivably broadcast a live event to Apple Stores.

There is some speculation that this move is related to Steve Jobs’ health. I’d speculate it’s more related to Apple’s search for a successor. Steve Jobs is an incredibly talented public speaker, and had created a pretty huge shoe for the next Apple figurehead to fill. By moving emphasis away from the venerable MacWorld keynote, it makes the job much easier for the future iCEO.

And one last thought: what’s the point of a conference named “MacWorld” in 2010, where Apple is increasingly better known for its iPods, iTunes, iPhones, and Apple TVs? Apple is becoming an entertainment company that just happens to make Macs.

The successor to MacWorld is “AppleWorld” – and it takes place at an Apple Store near you, every day of the year.


  1. jcieplinski says:

    Good points.

    I definitely think Steve is looking for a smooth exit strategy, which is why he's handing the Keynote of the last Macworld to Schiller. It's not that he's sick; he's ready to retire now, I think. And he gave us his reason two years ago at Macworld, when he introduced the iPhone.

    He said a person would be extremely lucky to have been a part of one major product release that changed the world. He had been there for two already: the Mac and the iPod/iTunes. The iPhone, as he predicted, was the third. What more could a guy expect from his career?

    So what will Apple do next? Well, eventually, they might change the game entirely with some new awesome product yet again, but not in the next year, two years, or even five years. Everything Apple does in that timeframe will simply be some derivative of the iPhone. Touch technology, the portability of OS X into other devices, the movement toward mobility and entertainment. We're still in the early stages of this era, but the course has been pretty much set. The next REVOLUTION is years away, and Jobs isn't going to wait around for that. Would you? How many billionaires do you know who work 80-hour weeks? Sure, he loves his company, but at some point you have to accept that you won the game ten times over, and it's time to appreciate the finer things in life. Like your wife and kids. You also have to step aside and let some of the amazing management team at Apple have their day, or you will start to lose them, as Apple already has.

    I'm sad about Macworld's demise, because I liked the social aspects of it. Gathering in a giant room with thousands of like-minded geeks was a real treat. Last year, I sat through the conference sessions as well, and found many of them valuable. And I did manage to find a lot of really cool products over the years in the expo hall. But my guess is that the Mac community will find other ways to gather. Small companies will find other ways to get the word out on their products. The Cult of Apple will remain intact.

    I'm just glad I was physically present at the last official Steve Jobs Macworld Keynote last year. Makes having waited in line from 3 a.m. even more worth it.

  2. webomatica says:

    You bring another thought to my mind – in terms of the overall Steve
    Jobsian story arc, retiring at this point in time would be a great
    moment. Apple is back on an upswing, has several products in addition
    to the Mac, he saved the company he founded and restored his
    reputation as a visionary and entrepreneur.

  3. It is unbelievable… that Mac world is over… No… Tell me it is not true…please tell me..that.. But i Know your news is perfect..So i am get socked and little worry.. How can this happen. But let me think about bright future of man kind … Thanks for such shocked news.