Apple bails on Macworld Expo after '09 show

And CEO Steve Jobs will be a no-show at next month's Expo

Apple Inc. announced late today that it will no longer exhibit at the January Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco after next month's show.

And in a move likely to spark renewed questions about CEO Steve Jobs' health, Apple said the keynote speech at the upcoming show, which runs Jan. 5-9, will be delivered by Phil Schiller, the company's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Schiller's address will be the last keynote speech at Macworld by an Apple executive, as well, the company said in a statement.

Schiller is scheduled to speak at the Moscone Center's Moscone West hall at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Jan. 6.

In its statement, Apple said it is "reaching more people in more ways than ever before" and -- as is likely the case for many companies -- "trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers." The company pointed to traffic in its retail stores -- as well as visits to its Web site -- as other ways in which it can reach customers.

"Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris," the company said in its statement.

It was not immediately clear what effect Apple's decision would have on the future of Macworld. A similar move by the company effectively ended an East Coast version of the expo that used to be held in Boston.

Mac fans had already been speculating about Jobs' expected appearance at Macworld, with many noting that nothing had been officially announced. Jobs, who faced a cancer scare several years ago, has in recent months dismissed concerns about his health.

Apple isn't the only one lowering its profile at the show. Adobe Systems Inc. said earlier this month that it had decided not to exhibit at the show.

Macworld is considered something of a rite of passage for dedicated Mac fans, and Apple has used the event numerous times to unveil new products. Earlier this year, Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air at the show.

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