Will iPhone 5 Unveil Be Jobs’ Final One Last Thing?

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Now that questions over when the iPhone 5 will appear seems to be settled, new speculation has shifted to whether former CEO and Apple stage-master Steve Jobs will show up on what was supposed to be new CEO Tim Cook’s day.

Jobs “is expected to make an appearance, though a no-show by the Apple co-founder will not be a major disappointment,” Reuters reports Monday. An Apple investment fund manager is quoted saying investors “would like to see Steve Jobs to confirm that he is still involved…but it’s not critical.”

The question is, if Jobs’ appears, what role will he assume onstage? The iPhone 5 would be Cook’s first product announcement since Jobs left day-to-day operations in August. Jobs attained legendary status for roaming the stage in iconic blue jeans and black turtleneck, “it is too early to write [Cook] off as not a visionary or showman like Steve Jobs,” said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu.

It’s worth noting that Reuters’ report is at odds with the consensus (and our own prediction) that Jobs will not appear. He’s passed the torch: showing up at an iPhone 5 event would send the wrong message about Jobs’ and Apple’s confidence in Cook.

Whether Jobs appears onstage or simply in a cameo role, though, his fingers will be all over the iPhone 5 event. As he always did with new products, Jobs’ may save the best for last.