When any significant Apple launch event bathes in its hype, speculation always surrounds CEO Steve Jobs.
In recent years, with Jobs' health problems, the question has always been whether he will take the stage and dominate it.
This time, some believe that his mere presence, which would fuel speculation about his state of health, would overshadow tomorrow's launch of what is expected to be a very important new product for Apple.
Jobs is. The true reasons for this leave have not been revealed, although there is presumption that it is related to his previous pancreatic cancer and liver transplant.
So some might believe that, should he arrive on stage, both the media and Wall Street would immediately present some sort of negative analysis. Some believe that any picture taken would add to the collection of prurient tabloid fodder.
However, if he isn't seen at all, the speculation wouldn't stop. Because he is such a high-profile CEO, he has become the story of Apple, almost as much as have the products.
Jobs is a passionate and disciplined advocate for his products. He is obsessive about how he wants the world to see them. If he decided not to appear, it might still, sadly, overshadow the launch, with all sorts of dramatic (if speculative or downright concocted) stories, especially in the more mainstream media.
Clearly, what matters most is Jobs' health. Only he can and should decide what he should do. But if he wasand fellow tech leaders recently, one can only hope that he might feel well enough to attend the iPad 2 event in some capacity.
Who would be surprised if he felt able to turn up in person? This is, after all, the company that he created. Perhaps he is so used to speculation about his health, that, having apparently made appearances in Cupertino over the last few weeks, he believes he is well enough to be there.
Perhaps he might at least appear by FaceTime link, so that people can focus more on his words than on his physical condition.
If he does decide to be present in some way, perhaps Jobs might just choose to rely on his sense of humor.
Three years ago, he appeared on stage at an iPod event with a memorable line behind him: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
I, for one, wouldn't be astonished if, whatever method he might use to appear tomorrow, he offered a joke or two about Apple's succession plan.