With the downgrading of next month's MacWorld from a Stevenote to a Philnote, MacPredictions doesn't expect any major announcements, beyond a launch date for Snow Leopard, and some incremental updates for iMac, Mac Pro, Cinema Displays and Mac Mini. Nonetheless, the new year will inevitably usher in a major new product announcement at some point.
Apple have accounted for their non-attendance at future trade shows by observing that the Apple Store provides them with a more effective way of interacting with consumers all year round. This is doubtless true, but as much as we all love our local Apple Store, its hardly a substitute for keynotes to launch products.
On that point, it's worth remembering that Apple's own Worldwide Developer Conference is still in the calendar, and remains likely to be graced by the obligatory Stevenote. Then, there's the annual media event to launch the new batch of iPods in the fall. And lets also not forget that Apple has been known to host other ad-hoc special events when they have a new product to launch to the media.
In fact, it's probably a blessing that Apple is moving away from the annual MacWorld keynote format. After all, whilst they've had their moments, (2007's launch of the iPhone being a particular highlight), they do have a tendency to turn into two-hour snooze-a-thons, when announcements are thin on the ground, and Steve makes up the time by jamming with his old pal John Mayer.
Ironically, we may be in for more events, not less, in 2009 - they'll just take the form of shorter, more focused media events, when Apple has something to say. And despite the recession, Apple is likely to have plenty to talk about in 2009. Last time the economy slowed, after the dotcom collapse, Apple famously innovated their way out of the recession. The result was their prescient digital lifestyle strategy from which we got such innovations as iMovie, iTunes, iPhoto and iPod. Apple's investment in R&D is now at an all-time high - who knows what they'll deliver this time. Plenty to speculate on in this blog in the coming weeks...