Steve Jobs to skip Macworld, raises health questions

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In a move likely to spark renewed questions about CEO Steve Jobs’ health, Apple late Tuesday said that the keynote speech at next month’s Macworld Conference & Expo will be delivered by Philip Schiller, the company’s senior product marketing executive. Apple also announced that it will no longer exhibit at the San Francisco event after next month’s show. Jobs’ health has been a matter of concern for some Wall Street analysts, and a topic of discussion among Apple users and investors for months. The speculation started in June, when Jobs appeared gaunt at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and was fueled by talk that he might again be seriously ill.

Hoping to avert a meltdown among its five major DRAM makers, Taiwan on Tuesday announced plans to help them both technologically and financially. The government plans to work with DRAM makers to build more homegrown technology, boost their ability to repay loans ,and encourage companies to combine in order to become more competitive, the island’s economics ministry said in a statement. The move came on the same day the state of Saxony announced a bailout for Germany’s only DRAM maker, Qimonda. The state government will loan Qimonda €150 million on the condition that the company’s majority stock holder, Infineon Technologies, matches the investment.

A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended government censorship efforts that block access to some foreign Web sites, saying they had broken Chinese laws by promoting the idea that “two Chinas” exist. His comments came in response to questions about Chinese access to Web sites like the BBC, Voice of America, and others, being blocked again. Access to many censored Web sites was restored earlier this year, part of a government commitment to not restrict Internet access during the Olympics. Prior to the Olympic games, China frequently blocked access to Web sites that it deems objectionable. The government rarely discusses these efforts, or provides information about why the Web sites are blocked.

The amount of excess chips waiting to be placed inside gadgets is likely to triple in the final three months of this year because demand is falling at a much faster pace than anticipated, iSuppli said Tuesday. The market research firm predicts the amount of excess semiconductors in the electronics supply chain could balloon to more than US$10.4 billion by the end of the fourth quarter, up from $3.8 billion at the end of the third quarter. By comparison, excess inventory at the beginning of the dot-com bust was $13.4 billion, iSuppli said.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

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