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Monday, December 15, 2008, 03:50 pm PT (06:50 pm ET)

Jobs keynote likely for Macworld; iTunes keeps Amazon MP3 at bay

Macworld Expo host IDG still expects Apple chief Steve Jobs to keynote 2009's San Francisco show despite unusual silence on the matter. Apple, meanwhile, now has little to fear from Amazon's music store a year later. NPD also data shows Mac sales continuing to grow.

Jobs probably for Macworld 2009 keynote

Macworld Expo's general manager, Paul Kent, took the time on Monday to reassure showgoers and BusinessWeek that Apple's co-founder would likely be at the event, whose public opening is scheduled for January 6th.

"We haven’t made the announcement yet. We usually do this in concert with Apple," he says. "I have no reason to believe that plans are not moving ahead."

While not committing to a specific decision date, Kent does hope for an announcement of a keynote within two weeks, or potentially just days before the keynote itself. In the past, IDG has more often confirmed Jobs' presence several weeks ahead

Word of this comes just as Goldman Sachs has sparked concern among investors by downgrading Apple stock and suggesting that any new products aren't likely to show at the San Francisco event. The Expo show floor itself has also been a matter of concern as a few big-name vendors have pulled out citing economic concerns.

Amazon MP3 fails to dislodge iTunes' market share

Even after a year on the market, Amazon MP3 hasn't resonated enough with the market to dent Apple's command of the digital media market, All Things D notes.

Referring to data from unnamed record label managers, the report claims that Amazon's copy protection-free store has garnered between 5 and 10 percent of US online music sales. While a significant portion, the number has done nothing to shrink Apple's over 70 percent share despite theoretically offering the ideal combination of iPod-ready MP3 songs and popular music.

The lack of success is described as damaging music labels' perceived attempt to push Apple towards more favorable iTunes pricing terms. Sony, Universal and Warner have all maintained anti-copying locks on their songs despite giving Amazon, RealNetworks, Walmart and numerous other shops music that can be freely shared between devices. EMI is the only major record label to offer its songs unguarded on iTunes.

Apple is allegedly in talks to remove DRM from the songs of the holdout labels, though these aren't said to be close enough for an imminent change.

Apple likely to sell up to 2.7m Macs, 19m iPods this fall

If recent NPD Group data is an indicator, Apple's growth will have slowed down in the fall over the last years but will be in line with expectations, Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster said on Monday in a new research note.

He notes that retail data for October and November was up 11 percent versus the same time in 2007, which he estimates would result in between 2.5 million and 2.7 million Macs trading hands for all of the final calendar quarter of 2008. This is around the stock market consensus, he says, and may be pessimistic given five fewer days being available to shop post-Thanksgiving this year, pushing most of the sales into December.

MacBook sales were also up about 28 percent in October courtesy of the revised lineup.

Mixed results are also likely for iPods. NPD info extrapolated from the same two-month period now suggests to Munster that sales of the media players should hover between 18.5 million and 19 million, which is slightly lower than the wider consensus but still in line.

As the general market is also faring better than the market has feared, these current expectations are still a positive, the analyst says.