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Just A Thought
by Vern Seward

OMG! Steve 's Not Keynoting!
June 17th, 2003

Jobs not speaking at a Macworld? Oh My (choose your deity)!!! Has he gone soft between the ears? Not to take anything away from Greg Joswiak, I'm sure he's a fine speaker, but this is Macworld! The Mac faithful NEED to hear that all is well in the world of Apple, and they need to hear it from the Man, the Big Kahuna, the master orator and generator of the Reality Distortion Field. We need to hear Steve Jobs say that all is OK.

Could this be a dire premonition of Apple's impending doom? Does this spell the end of all digital things we hold dear? Could I possibly get anymore melodramatic without ticking you off?

Before you toss me aside like so much garbage, please hear me out.

People like to read all sorts of stuff into anything Steve Jobs does; if he sneezes, folks assume the Mac will get a speed bump instead of a redesign. It's a hazard Jobs has to put up with after becoming the bellwether for the computing industry. (I think he even has a rule about not sneezing in public.) And it's not just the stuff he does, but also the things he decides not to do.

Take this recent announcement that Mr. Jobs won't be doing the NY Macworld keynote. It's easy to believe that such a move implies all sorts of ill omens but let's step back and look at the big picture, shall we?

Point number 1: Mr. Jobs may not be keynoting at Macworld but he is keynoting at the WWDC.

The significance of that should be obvious: Apple is about to show off its next great iteration of OS X, code name: Panther, and possibly the next great iteration of the Mac Pro and the company's corporate offerings. Either announcement would be cool, but a combined announcement would firmly squash any doubts about Apple that may be lurking in the minds of any developers. Apple needs developers so psyched about its products that they would think twice about not developing for the Mac. If anyone can whip a crowd into a frenzy, even a group as jaded as software developers, Steve Jobs can. So it only seems reasonable to put the big guns where it will do the most good. (Have you ever seen a developer immersed in a Reality Distortion Field? It's a sight to behold.)

Point number 2: Macworld speaks to users, WWDC speaks to vendors.

Even though this Macworld is billed as being for pros, after everything is said and done, it's still about users. Apple is in the midst of another transition, one where, when completed, the end users -- folks like you and me -- will have a lot to smile about when we look at our shiny new machines. To get there, however, Apple has to go through still more rough spots, like disassociating itself from the G4 and Motorola, and the stigma of slowness its pro boxes have taken on; while to many Apple's name is synonymous with innovation, Apple hasn't really wowed anyone lately. The 17" and 12" PowerBooks are neat, and the new iPods are slick, but they are just improved variations on a really good theme. Not since the LCD iMacs were introduced has Apple made industry watchers and, more importantly, the folks buying its equipment, go "WOW!" Apple needs to hear "WOW" right about now, especially from developers. Jobs will wow the rest of us later.

Point number 3: It could be time for good ol' Steve to pass on the controls to the Distortion Field Generator to someone else.

Steve Jobs is a hard working man. With Pixar and Apple under his guidance, Mr. Jobs may be thinking that it's time to step back a bit and let others take a whack at passing down the word to the Mac faithful. You have to give Jobs credit, he pulled Apple out of the major funk it was in when he returned, and he has guided Apple through some very rough waters, keeping the business profitable even while the economy dictated that it should be folding the tents. Many of you feel that Apple is about to turn a major corner once the Summer is over, I agree; and it may be the best time ever for Steve Jobs to relinquish even a small amount of control over Apple, and to introduce a relatively new face to the Mac buying public.

If Greg Joswiak is to be the new face of Apple then the man had better have really big feet because the shoes Steve Jobs will leave behind are gonna be huge. What better place to see how big Greg's tootsies are than at a Macworld?

None of the above points at or even hint at Apple taking a header into an empty pool; no portent of doom and gloom, nothing but wholesome goodness. So there's no reason to get anxious over Jobs' decision to not keynote Macworld NY, no reason at all.

Maybe it was just me...

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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