The mercurial Steve Jobs will not be attending Apple Expo in Paris next month, sparking speculation that his absence could be intended as a snub to the French.
In the past, Jobs had been a constant presence at the major European Apple exhibition. But after missing the last two for very good reasons, including serious illness, he was slated to attend this year's show.
On Monday, Apple confirmed that Jobs will not now not be attending this year's show, but did not give a reason why. Clémentine Tisserand, speaking on behalf of the show's organisers, Reed Expositions France, told Macworld UK on Monday that Jobs would not be delivering the show's keynote.
"There will be no keynote at this year's show," said Tisserand. That decision had been taken by the company, she said, but gave no further details.
The announcement immediately sparked speculation about Jobs's motives in turning down the opportunity to address European Apple users.
One theory was that this resulted from a spat between Apple and the French nation over the future of iTunes in France. French government officials had ruled that the digital rights management (DRM) used by Apple was unconstitutional, as it means that songs bought over iTunes can only be played on iPods or through iTunes. This, they argued, prevented other music player suppliers from competing.
In May the French Senate changed its tune slightly with the introduction of an amendment, which said a company that agrees to provide the code for accessing their music players will receive a licence fee as compensation, along with guarantees that the transfer of information will not weaken its copyright-protection measures.
At this stage, it appeared likely that Apple might carry out its threat to pull out of France, traditionally strong territory for the company, all together.
Then, in July, the company got further good news when France's Conseil Constitutionnel wrote more protection for copyright and digital rights management into its constitution.
It remains to be seen, though, whether this will calm Apple enough to stop it going through with its threat to remove itself from France.
There are other possible reasons behind Jobs's no-show in Paris, including a possible recurrence of the illness that hit him two years ago. Earlier this month, Apple found itself under pressure to squash rumours circulating around this subject.