Oooo, we can hear the flame-laden arguments already. Sigh. Okay, folks, here's the Controversy of the Day: according to an official press release pointed out by faithful viewer Thu, due to the devastation of last Tuesday, Apple has cancelled the Apple Expo that was slated to happen in Paris next week. Sayeth Steve: "We're sorry to disappoint our users and developers, but their safety is our primary concern." There are, of course, several ways to interpret this announcement, which is why we're expecting a fair dose of healthy debate on the subject.
First, there's the face-value geopolitical take on things. Provided you can get past the standard "if we let them interrupt business as usual, then the terrorists win" rhetoric, you shouldn't be surprised if Steve is primarily concerned for the safety of the conferencegoers-- not to mention his own skin. Granted, last week's attack was on U.S. soil, not in Paris, but in light of brewing military retaliation, we wouldn't be a bit surprised if our government has told Apple that Paris might not be the safest place for a large and highly-visible American corporation to be next week. If the U.S. decides to flex its military muscles and innocent people therefore turn into "collateral damage," then a U.S. corporation abroad might suddenly find itself dangerously unpopular. Heck, maybe the French government even suggested that the show be cancelled, fearing trouble following a U.S. company onto foreign soil. Who knows? This is all just speculation, and all we can say for certain is that if Apple didn't have safety concerns, it would need to lay off the Reality Distortion just a little.
Then there's the logistical interpretation. Face it: air travel is a big stinking mess right now, and it's not likely to be much better next week. Steve may have his own jet, but we're guessing it won't seat a full conference staff, and traveling by commercial airline next week will be sketchy at best. And besides moving people, what about moving freight? From last Tuesday until this morning, your best bet for getting things from Point A to Point B was a wormhole in the space-time continuum or by strapping them to your back and walking. Even now, getting them there by air is still a little iffy-- better than last week, and better still next week, but iffy nonetheless. It's entirely likely that Apple just wanted to avoid the higgledy-piggledy altogether.
And, of course, let's never forget the bitterly cynical view: Apple already told us not to expect much at this year's Apple Expo, so why jump through hoops, spend a ton of cash, and risk the safety of employees and customers alike just to carry on with a show that was already going to be lukewarm to begin with? Indeed, faithful viewer Garibaldi (who has proven himself to be intensely psychic about these things) indicates that Apple may in fact be ever-so-slightly relieved, because aside from Mac OS X 10.1 (which, we hear, is coming along nicely), the company won't have anything else done enough to show-- not the long-awaited new iMac, and not even the refreshed PowerBook-- which was supposed to be ready in time for the Expo.
It's up to you to decide how you want to interpret this latest development, but one fact is resoundingly clear: when Steve said there would be no new hardware in Paris this year, he wasn't kidding. As for Seybold, which was also scheduled to happen next week, MacCentral reports that it's moving ahead as planned. Of course, MacCentral also reports that Steve will still be giving keynote speaker Phil Schiller a "satellite introduction," which hardly seems necessary now that the Paris gig was cancelled; indeed, we're thinking the odds are pretty good that Phil gets the day off and Steve takes the stage live and in person instead. And if so, at least he won't be jetlagged...