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Macworld pullout blamed on "politics," not Jobs' health


Following the startling news that Apple would no longer show at Macworld Expo after the 2009 event, one report may put to rest fears that the health of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is the deciding factor behind the move.

Reporter Jim Goldman of CNBC largely supports Apple's official explanation, which pins the choice to exit Macworld on a reduced need to appear at trade shows. According to his alleged sources within Apple, the move is strictly a matter of de-emphasizing the event and not the sign of any health problems that would keep Jobs from presenting a keynote.

"Jobs' decision was more about politics than his pancreas," Goldman says, alluding to Jobs' post-cancer status. "If Jobs for some reason was unable to perform any of his responsibilities as CEO because of health reasons, which would include the Macworld keynote, I should 'rest assured that the board would let me know.'"

Apple has typically followed this practice of disclosure, though only out of necessity: the company remained secretive regarding Jobs' rare form of pancreatic cancer until he chose to undergo surgery in 2004 that temporarily removed him from his duties. In contrast, little has been said this year of Jobs' second, less urgent surgery, which triggered worries and prompted Jobs to call a reporter personally to set the record straight.

The Mac maker's "politics" are more straightforward: the company has gradually withdrawn from many of the shows that once made it famous, whether they have been Macworld Expos in different regions or industry-specific gatherings. Instead, Apple has increasingly chosen to hold its own events, whether they take place at the Town Hall location on its own campus or at special venues like the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which has played home to multiple iPod-related events.

To Goldman, what his sources say is simply a matter of logic: even at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the largest event of its kind on Earth, large firms are pulling out in favor of in-house presentations that let them get full attention. The departure from Macworld is simply seen as another extension of this behavior, even if it threatens to sink an entire industry event in the process.

"Steve Jobs is fine," Goldman writes. "It's Macworld the expo that's on its last legs."