Apple has announced that the Macworld Conference & Expo 2009 will be the company’s last. The company also said Steve Jobs will not deliver his traditional keynote at the event in January.

In his place, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, will deliver the keynote on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at the Moscone West hall. That, said Apple, will be the company's last keynote at the annual trade show.

“I think its the end of Macworld Expo,” Michael Gartenberg, vice president of market research firm JupiterMedia and editor of the MobileDevicesToday blog, told Macworld. “It’s the end of an era.”

But Paul Kent, vice president and general manager of Macworld Expo organizer IDG World Expo, said that his organization would strive to serve Mac users at next January's trade show and beyond.

“Macworld Conference & Expo has thrived for 25 years due to the strong support of tens of thousands of people in the Mac community worldwide who use [Expo] as a way to find great products, partake in professional development training and cultivate their personal and professional networks," Kent said. “We are committed to serve their interests at the Moscone Center, January 4-8 2010.”

Kent added that future events “will continue to provide quality education, dynamic product viewing and will additionally focus on the amazing ways people are putting Apple products to work across all endeavors from desktops to iPhones to games to music. We look forward to many successful years of Macworld to come.”

In a press release announcing its decision to pull out of Macworld Expo after the 2009 event, Apple explained that it has developed new avenues for interacting with its customers.

“Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers,” the company said in a statement posted to its website. “The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.”

Besides its stores, Apple also holds its own events during which the company has introduced new iPods and computers in the past few years.

“Unlike other companies, Apple are able to draw press and analysts to an event anytime they want,” said Gartenberg.

Gartenberg also believes that the absence of Jobs at the keynote sends a signal to the community. “Without Steve Jobs it’s probably going to be a tame Macworld this year,” he said.

Kent disagreed. “We are on track for a terrific show this year with strong attendance and nearly 500 exhibitors showcasing their products at this January’s event,” he said.

Apple pointed out that it has been scaling back on trade shows recently. Earlier this year, the company didn’t exhibit at the NAB show, an annual trade event for broadcasters and video pros where Apple had introduced updates to its professional video-editing tools in the past. The company also didn’t participate in this year’s Apple Expo in Paris and pulled out of the Mac Live Expo in London two years ago.

In 2002, when IDG World Expo announced plans to relocate its East Coast Mac trade show from New York to Bsoton, Apple announced it would stop participating in the summer trade event. After two Macworld Expos in Boston, IDG World Expo pulled the plug on that event.

It’s been a tough lead-up to Macworld Expo this year. Earlier this month, Belkin pulled out of Expo citing economic conditions. And Adobe will also not be exhibiting at the trade show this year, but it will have employees on hand to lead training sessions.