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Apple sets WWDC headliners: Will Jobs be on the keynote 'team'?

Updated: Apple said that Philip Schiller, marketing chief at the company, would lead a team of executives in delivering the keynote at the World Wide Developers Conference June 8. The company set its WWDC keynote plans in a statement.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Updated: Apple said that Philip Schiller, marketing chief at the company, would lead a team of executives in delivering the keynote at the World Wide Developers Conference June 8. 

The company set its WWDC keynote plans in a statement. The big question is whether CEO Steve Jobs, currently on medical leave, will make an appearance. Technically Jobs isn't supposed to return until the end of June so it's quite logical that Schiller would lead the band. However, a Jobs appearance as part of the team would be notable. Here's why:

  • Jobs could put health speculation to rest;
  • As being part of a team, Jobs would highlight that Apple's management bench is deep (the company has made a lot of progress proving that);
  • And Jobs would juice the crowd.

Apple didn't reveal much about the WWDC show, but you can expect a heavy dose of iPhone OS 3.0 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard. As for Jobs, the Apple faithful shouldn't get their hopes up too high for an appearance.

Update: Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster downplays the WWDC news and noted that he expects Jobs to be back at Apple at the end of June. He also expects that WWDC will focus on the latest Mac OS X and not iPhones. New iPhone are likely to appear at a late June or early July event. 

Munster writes:

What We Expect To See (And Not See) At WWDC; No New iPhones. As indicated in today's press release, we believe Apple will focus on the new version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard at WWDC. While some investors may be expecting Apple to launch redesigned iPhones at WWDC, we do not anticipate the launch in early June. Rather, we expect Apple to host a special event in late June or early July to launch a family of iPhones. We continue to expect multiple models, possibly a high-end iPhone with improved specs from the current version and a low-end version with lower capacity and fewer features along with a reduced pricing plan. Such a model could also be used in Apple's launch of the iPhone into China as soon as the end of summer '09. 

Our Take On Steve Jobs' Return To Apple. Apple continues to expect the return of Steve Jobs by the end of June (likely implying after WWDC). Until then, it appears that day-to-day operations at Apple are running smoothly. We believe Jobs may return to Apple with a reduced role, possibly as chairman, with COO Tim Cook assuming the CEO position. Regardless, we think the transition of leadership during and after Jobs' leave of absence will not negatively impact Apple's business.

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