Apple's Big Event: Will Steve Jobs Show Up?

Analysts are split on whether Apple CEO Jobs will appear at today's event.

ByABC News
September 8, 2009, 1:06 PM

Sept. 9, 2009— -- The invitation says "It's only rock and roll," but to Apple-watchers, it's oh-so-much more.

Today, Apple Inc. hosts its annual music-themed, invitation-only media event and, once again, the Silicon Valley rumor mill is churning away.

Speculation is soaring about new iPods, an updated iTunes and even the so-called "iPad," a much-buzzed-about but as yet unconfirmed touch-screen tablet.

But for some, the biggest question about the event is: Will the man behind the curtain himself, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, make an appearance?

Jobs returned to Apple in June following a six-month leave of absence after undergoing a liver transplant that was cloaked in secrecy.

But aside from a surreptitiously captured image that surfaced on a gossip blog in July, Jobs has been largely hidden from public view, leaving industry watchers to continue their speculation about the status of his health and its impact on the company.

Some think he might make a long-awaited public appearance today.

"We think that he will be there," said Gene Munster, a senior research analyst for Piper Jaffray. "Part of the reason is that he is back at the company. He most likely will not be present the entire time. But what we've heard is that he's engaged again."

However, Munster said he expects Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, to man the microphone for most of the event.

Since the expectation is that Jobs is back at work and part of day-to-day decisions, Munster said that if he does not make an appearance at all "it's a mild negative for shares," although will not change his firm's long-term view.

As for the products themselves, Munster said he thinks the company might unveil iPods with a new camera feature and possibly an updated version of iTunes. He doesn't expect Apple to unveil a tablet until the first part of 2010.

Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc., a Silicon Valley analyst, said he and others are looking for the next generation of iPods to be unveiled today.

"Because Apple has moved so aggressively around the concept of applications for both the iPhone and the iPod Touch, it would not surprise us if we had a whole new range of products based on the iPod Touch concept," he said.