Apple (AAPL) announcements always mean we'll get to see Steve Jobs do an incredibly masterful job of explaining and selling the company's newest breakthrough products.

But Tuesday's big laptop announcement was very different from previous Apple events. It may have been a preview of the future.

Usually, Jobs' role in these events is that of master of ceremonies, professor, activist, cheerleader and company boss all rolled into one. That's why these events are always so entertaining.

( Photo gallery: A look at Steve Jobs over the years)

The latest showcase of Apple's newly overhauled line of laptops was a departure from the norm. First of all, the session ran just over an hour. Some previous sessions would be enthralling for nearly double that. And Jobs played only one role during the presentation -- M.C. He let others do much of the talking, and that could have been the most telling part of the show.

Steve Jobs says his BP's good,
but how's his overall health?

Jobs wants to keep his private life and medical history secret. I agree that as a private citizen he has every right to do so. But without delving into his entertainment empire, Jobs is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of a large, successful technology company. He worked very hard to make it that way. Actually, he did so twice.

It's public knowledge that he has battled cancer in the past. In 2004, he told employees that he had been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his pancreas.

That type of cancer is almost always fatal. Jobs said he has a rare, less-aggressive type, so after trying a diet cure, he underwent surgery to have the tumor removed. Jobs called the surgery a success. Talk has it that he didn't require radiation or chemotherapy.

Since that time, Apple has been on a roll. iPod, iPhone, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac Books, OS X. You name it, Apple has perfected it. Even if Apple hadn't thought of it first, the company made it its own.

But back to Jobs' health. Earlier this year, at the WWDC keynote address (including the introduction of the Mac Book Air laptop), he didn't look well. I'm not a doctor, but I know when someone looks too thin and tired. At the time, Apple corporate press liaisons knocked down any bad-health rumors. They said he was fighting a "bug."

And despite the accidental publication of a Jobs obit by Bloomberg this summer and blogger rumors that he had been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack earlier this month, Jobs seems to have been busy at work continuing to innovate.

I'm sorry to say that in my opinion, from the pictures I've seen from yesterday's session, Jobs does not look well. I hope I'm wrong. But his gaunt appearance moves the spotlight to the other Apple officials who did a lot of the talking. One of them might be in line to be the next CEO of Apple.

Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, and Jonathan Ive, senior vice president and Apple's Industrial Design guru, did a large portion of the presentation. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that except for the fact that Jobs usually handles most of that stuff all by himself.

Even more telling was that at the end of the shortened session, Cook and Jobs sat on stools, along with senior vice president and worldwide marketing chief Phil Schiller, answering questions from the adoring crowd. I don't remember anything like that happening in Apple's recent past; it's usually just Jobs solo.

Jobs did try to handle all the health rumors by showing a slide during yesterday's session claiming his blood pressure is 110/70, and that's all he would say about his health. My blood pressure is normal too when I take my pills.

As Apple's CEO, Jobs has a responsibility to his stockholders to reveal any health problems he might have that could affect his running the company. It might also be wise to start thinking about who might take over the running of the company just in case Jobs decides he wants to take it a little easier in the future.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.

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