Macworld Expo was hit with a double-whammy in the run up to Christmas: first with the news that Apple CEO Steve Jobs wasn't going to give his traditional opening keynote; and secondly that this year's show would be the last Apple would ever attend.
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Mac community followed but, in truth, Apple's move makes perfect sense. Here's why:
1. Apple has outgrown Macworld Expo
Thanks to the huge success of the iPod and iPhone Apple now appeals to a much broader range of consumers than was the case when it only made Mac desktop and laptop computers.
Apple's future direction was plain to see when Steve Jobs announced the name change from Apple Computer to Apple Inc at Macworld Expo 2007 – it's now a consumer electronics maker, not just a niche player in a market dominated by Microsoft.
2. Apple wants to call the shots
Over the last couple of years Apple has steadily pulled away from Mac-centred and trade show events where someone else sets the timing and agenda for any announcements.
Long gone are the days when it announced new products at Apple Expo in Paris, or at similar events in countries like Japan… just because that was the expected thing to do.
Apple now prefers to make product announcements at times of its choosing, and at events it can completely control – the now annual iPod launch event in September is evidence of that.
3. Apple has to regain the element of surprise
Having to trot out onto the stage at set times each year has arguably put Apple on the back foot. Each event is hyped up to be even more spectacular than the last, and that's a weight of expectation that can only a) result in disappointment; b) force Apple to show its hand when it's simply not ready to do so and c) force it share price to tank when it occasionally comes up short.
Take the eagerly anticipated One More Thing – the first couple of times Steve Jobs did it, it was genuinely exciting. It could only lapse into cliché and parody forever after.
4. Apple has outgrown its hardcore fanbase
It's sad, but inevitably true that Apple doesn't need its most loyal advocates any more. By disassociating itself from events like Macworld Expo it's freeing itself from a fanboy ghetto to which a lesser company could all too easily have become imprisoned.
Apple knows it has your business – it now needs to appeal to the 'rest of us' ordinary punters if it's to continue to prosper.
5. It sets Apple free to do what it's best at
Steve Jobs' keynotes are slick, exciting and eagerly anticipated for a reason – he and his acolytes spend weeks beforehand preparing every slide, picking over every sentence, timing every moment to perfection.
As the multi-billionaire head of a multi-billion dollar company, you can bet there are plenty of other ways Steve Jobs would rather be spending his time – like helping to craft the next-gen of amazing Apple products, dreaming up new ways of confounding his competitors or simply spending more time with his family to name but three.
Apple's withdrawal from Macworld Expo also says a lot about the company's corporate philosophy. it's never been about giving other people what they expect or ask for - that unthankful task has fallen to Microsoft in its devilish pact with enterprise.
Apple's withdrawal suggests it's time to move on, and it's time we all moved on too.
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