Apple has announced that the January 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo will be its last.

The long-standing conference has been Mac fan Mecca, often used by the Cupertino, Calif. vendor to roll out major new products.

In a statement, Apple said new and expanding customer relationships in Apple retail stores and its website have made tradeshows a "very minor part" of its customer relations effort. The company has been "steadily scaling back" on its trade show presence in other venues in recent years, the statement said.

Apple is the star of the show, but it is not the only one: at the 2008 conference, 450 companies exhibited, including 100 first-timers. Among last year's attendees were Microsoft, NEC, and Samsung, as well as many others representing the broad swath serving different parts of the Mac, iPhone, and iPod hardware and software ecosystem.

The 2009 show's opening keynote speech will be made by Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. The Macworld conference is created by IDG World Expo, a business unit of IDG, which is also the parent company of Network World and Macworld.