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Wednesday, January 07, 2009, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Analysts: Macworld "underwhelming", "evolutionary"

Apple watchers on Wall Street are weighing in on Tuesday's Phil Schiller-led keynote address at Macworld, which they found disappointing but somewhat reassuring when it comes to the continued role of Steve Jobs as the company's primary spokesperson.

Kaufman Brothers' Shaw Wu and PiperJaffray's Gene Munster both termed the event "underwhelming" in their reports, although they still maintain Buy ratings on the Cupertino-based company.

"Even though expectations weren't that high (especially with Steve Jobs not giving the keynote), we still found the announcements somewhat underwhelming," Wu wrote.  "This was arguably among the weakest product introductions we can remember over the last 10 [Macworlds].

Wu praised iPhoto as the most impressive announcement, writing "[Apple] continues to innovate on software, further differentiating its hardware."

Over at Barclays Capital, Ben Reitzes titled his report "Macworld: Evolutionary Not Revolutionary" and wrote that while Macworld "was not very eventful, we believe Apple continues to be the leading innovator in its space...building a loyal community across a range of devices."

Reitzes sees new iPhones appearing in mid-2009, stressing the importance of an improved camera with video capability.

As for Macs, Wu cited supply chain checks and asserted that "new Macs are at a late stage of development and ready for production, so we are somewhat surprised they were not announced."

But, according to Munster, that is proof Steve Jobs remains the spokesman and "active leader" of the company.

"We believe that Steve Jobs relinquished the Macworld keynote to Phil Schiller primarily because there were no significant announcements.  If Phil Schiller had made a significant announcement, we would have seen that as a sign of a changing-of-the-guard, but that was not the case," Munster wrote.

"Steve Jobs remains the primary spokesperson for the company and we expect him to continue to appear at special events for all major product announcements."

All three maintain their estimates.  Reitzes lists $113 as his price target while Wu is slightly more bullish at $120.  Munster's 12-month target is $235.