When it comes to Macworld keynotes it is the best and worst of times for Apple marketing guru Philip Schiller, the stand-in for Steve Jobs on Tuesday.
Here's the breakdown:
Worst of times: Schiller has to be a stand-in for Jobs at the last Macworld event. He has an impossible task.
Best of times: There are no expectations for grandeur from Schiller so he's likely to top expectations.
Best of times: Schiller has some goodwill going for him in light of Jobs' disclosure that he is being treated for a hormone imbalance instead of being on his often rumored deathbed.
Best of times: Given Jobs' disclosure that he will remain CEO we won't overanalyze Schiller's Macworld keynote as an audition to be chief executive.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sums up the consensus view, which reveals low expectations for Schiller and Apple at Macworld:
On 12/6 Apple announced that Macworld 2009 will be the last Macworld in which the company will participate. Additionally, Apple indicated that Phil Schiller will keynote Macworld in place of CEO Steve Jobs. As a result, Street expectations for the event are low, no significant new products are expected. Earlier today (1/5) Apple preemptively addressed Jobs' health issues in an open letter describing a treatable hormone imbalance, for which he has already begun treatment. Predicting product announcements for this year's Macworld has been difficult with new iPods and Macs released in the fall and the relatively new iPhone 3G (released in July). With Phil Schiller delivering the keynote, we believe it suggests there will not be any revolutionary products at this year's event. Possible new products include an updated iMac and/or a redesigned Mac mini. We continue to expect a new form factor iPhone in the March quarter. We initially thought there was an outside chance that a new iPhone could be announced at Macworld, the news regarding the keynote leads us to believe that a new iPhone at Macworld is less likely.
Now the real topping would be if Apple actually announces a few neat things in Jobs' absence. Apple could prove a few things by making such a move. For starters, Apple could show that it's more than Steve Jobs. The company could also show that its product beat goes on.
Will it happen? Who knows, but it seems to me that Schiller's job just got a little easier at Macworld.