The question of the day isn't about new iPhones, or Snow Leopard, or the App Store update, or new developers' tools. It's about Steve Jobs.
If Apple thought six months away for the mercurial leader, or a near doubling of Apple's share price would stop the rumor mill surrounding Jobs—or even slow it—the company was sorely mistaken. Headlines blared from Silicon Valley to London and all points in between about whether "the end of June," the time-table Apple and Jobs pegged for his return, would somehow turn into the beginning of June, as of today, for Jobs' first public appearance.
I have no idea. I'd say it's unlikely, but Jobs is full of surprises. Always has been. He may have seen RBC Capital's Palm Pre sales estimates of 45,000 to 55,000 units over the weekend with a suspected 15,000 more customers on waiting lists and decided maybe Apple needs some added juice. RBC estimates 470,000 units will sell in the first quarter and 2.6 million during its first full year on sale.
Meantime, outside Moscone West in San Francisco, the line of Mac faithful stretches nearly a full city block already with the first person in line, "Clay," got here at 530pPDT Sunday evening, traveling from Virginia for the honor.
We are anticipating a deep look into the new Snow Leopard operating system, an update on the App Store's performance, new developer tools (after all, this is a developers conference) and maybe some new price points for the iPhones, including the possibility of a $99 price point.
I'll be live-blogging the Phil Schiller keynote and of course, we'll be bringing you updates throughout the day. So what do you think, will he or won't he? And does it even matter? Apple's been doing great without him, even if he is still actively involved in key decisions while he was away. (Click here to go to the Live Blog)
If anything, Apple has proven thus far that its deep bench of executive talent can perform in Job's absence. All that focus on Apple products these past few months sure has been nice. But now, we're back to Jobs' Watch. Which is kind of too bad. We'll see how long that lasts.
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