Does the final appearance of Apple at MacWorld mean that Apple has a new paradigm for their marketing? Maybe so. If you are known for "telegraphing your punches" via making product announcements at a predictable point in time (like at MacWorld) ALL of your competitors have an advantage in knowing to time their own announcements so as to take advantage of that fact. By walking away from the MacWorld tradition, Apple becomes quite free to make product announcements at any time THEY consider advantageous. Multiple pundits of "all things Apple" have stated their disappointment at the relatively tame announcements that were issued forth from the 2009 MacWorld. Could Apple be setting up the unwary for an unexpected blockbuster, or is Apple simply breaking an old template--which provides them with a lot more flexibility for the future. Being predictable about product announcements can be a great comfort to competitors. They may think, "Let's wait until Apple makes their MacWorld announcements and see what opportunities that opens up or closes for us." On the other hand, unpredictably spaced announcements make each event more interesting and valuable, since no one knows when the next one will take place. Customers, in the short run may get a bit frustrated. Some are a part of what onlookers call an Apple cult. These folks think that their relationship with Apple is one of the key factors behind Apple's success. While I salute these folks for their dedication as early adopters of Apple's newest technologies, Apple has quietly, and quite successfully moved beyond a cult focus to a major consumer goods company that satisfies consumer needs for the greater population of the USA and, increasingly, the world. The tendency of competitors is to use old milestones to tag Apple as a competitor that will always be a niche player and one that will never be a serious major player. Take for example, the computer market. PC's continue to dominate while Apple is less than 10% of the USA market. That is the lasting impression that is retained by most folks. But look at the game-changing wedge products that Apple dominates its markets with in the USA: iPod and iPhone. iPod continues to be the number one in its market. iPhone has shifted the paradigm for all other smart phone competitors. While Apple continues to steadily improve its computers, PC competitors continue to see Apple (increasingly falsely) as a non-threat to their business. If you can be a major innovator and steadily develop game-changing products and somehow, (incredibly & against all reason) seduce your competitors into believing that you really and truly are an underdog, my friend, you are a miraculous wizard! Al Jolson, the master vaudeville entertainer of the 1920's used to get his audience stirred up, get them quiet for a moment only to tell them "You ain't seen nothing yet!" and then he would eclipse his earlier performance. What a showman he was. I believe we are going to see some spectacular things from Apple--this show is not over yet.