Jobs to duck Macworld keynote, drawing concern

Apple CEO Steve Jobs won't be delivering the keynote at next month's Macworld, a revelation that's sounding off new alarm bells about Jobs' health and Apple's succession plans.

After years of hotly anticipated Macworld speeches, in which Jobs typically announces new Apple products, he will break with tradition by skipping his appearance at the show.

On Tuesday, Apple announced that it will not participate in future editions of the IDG-produced Macworld event, starting in 2010.

A further acknowledgment that Jobs will not serve as keynoter at next month's Macworld 2009 has since generated new concerns among shareholders about his health, which were first sparked when Jobs underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer a few years ago.

Now, as Job approaches retirement age, some financial analysts are pointing to the need for a publicized succession plan from Apple, regardless of whether or not Jobs is currently ill.

An Oppenheimer analyst, Yair Reiner, has downgraded Apple's stock on grounds that the company lacks such a a plan.

"Six months have passed since Jobs appeared at the Apple Developer Conference, looking drawn and unwell. It's past time for Apple to either disclose the state of his health or elaborate a visible plan for eventually transferring power," the analyst wrote in a note to clients.

Another possibility -- a simpler one to imagine, but perhaps less simple for the Apple faithful to entertain -- is that Apple does not have "one more thing" to announce next month. In the current economic climate, companies everywhere are reducing capital expenditures, and Apple is most likely among them.

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