Forget iPhones, Snow Leopard, and iPhone OS 3.0 -- the biggest question out there for this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is whether Steve Jobs will make an appearance today. Ever since the Apple CEO stepped down for health-related reasons, rumblings have pointed to WWDC as the most probable date to kick off his comeback. Here's a breakdown of major events that point to a Jobs appearance at WWDC.
Steve Jobs steps aside
In January, Steve Jobs stepped down from his post as Apple CEO for "issues related to a hormone imbalance." At the time, Jobs said his health problems were more complicated than he anticipated and needed to take some time off to recuperate. In a letter to Apple employees, Jobs indicated that he would remain involved in Apple's major strategic decisions and would return to the helm at 1 Infinite Loop by June 2009.
Questions over Jobs' health had been going on for several months, and some wondered if Jobs' announcement meant the end for both Jobs and Apple.
Calling it in
A little over two weeks after Apple announced the dates for this year's WWDC, The Wall Street Journal in April ran a report that Jobs was working on major Apple products from home as promised. The WSJ said those products included a new iPhone, the user interface for iPhone OS 3.0 and the mysterious Apple tablet. At the time, Apple had not announced its keynote speaker for WWDC, a spot traditionally reserved for Jobs. So many Apple pundits -- including myself -- wondered if Jobs would swoop in at WWDC to lead the keynote address once more.
However, since then it has become clear that a team of Apple executives lead by Phil Schiller would take over the WWDC keynote duties.
The Woz Report
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak last month told The Wall Street Journal that Jobs sounded "healthy" and "energetic." Wozniak said he hadn't asked Jobs directly about his health, but said the Apple CEO didn't "sound like he was sick" or in the middle of a health crisis.
The WSJ didn't specify what kind of contact Wozniak had with the Jobs, but Wozniak's statements imply he has only spoken to Jobs over the phone.
Only two days after the Woz report, several blogs heard rumblings that a healthy-looking Steve Jobs had been spotted at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California. There is no direct confirmation of this, but considering that Jobs is due to return this month infrequent appearances by Steve Jobs at Apple HQ would not be surprising.
Jobs' health on-track
Another report last week from The Wall Street Journal indicated that Jobs's recovery is on track, and the Apple CEO will be returning to his post this month.
Based on several reports, Jobs is healthy and ready for action. If that's the case, what better time to make an appearance than WWDC? Apple is not a company that lets a press opportunity pass it by, and today the tech world will be focused on the keynote address at WWDC. For months Apple watchers and fans have been predicting a new iPhone would be unveiled today, and many are reporting that Apple will soon introduce a new touch tablet to compete in the netbook market.
With so much attention and anticipation focused on Apple, it makes perfect sense for Jobs to make an appearance and do what he does best: get the world excited about a new Apple product.
It's entirely possible that Jobs will be sitting at home following the WWDC live blogs WWDC like the rest of us, but I doubt it. If I had to guess, my money is on Phil Schiller delivering the famous "one more thing" line, and then turning the spotlight on Apple's CEO. Who knows? A dramatic appearance by Jobs, could even outshine the introduction of a new iPhone. Only a few hours left until we find out.
Follow PC World's coverage of Apple's WWDC keynote address beginning today at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.
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