By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 8, 2009

David Pogue, New York Times tech columnist, creator of the Missing Manual series, and frustrated Broadway producer, led his Macworld Live! feature presentation in San Francisco Wednesday with a musical riff on Steve Jobs’ non-attendance.

Playing the electric piano and accompanied by former Cirque de Soleil bassist J.F. Brisette, he sang, to the tune of Oliver’s “Where is Love?”

“Where is Steve? Give us something to believe! Should we trust Apple’s press release — or are we all naive?”

The performance drew knowing laughter and applause from an audience of several thousand in the basement of Moscone Center’s North Hall. But the hit of 90-minute presentation were his three guests:

  • Matt Harding, whose YouTube videos dancing at exotic locations around the world have been downloaded 17 million times. See, for example, Where the Hell is Matt?
  • Matt Bledsoe and Tyler Hitch, creators of the You Suck at Photoshop series,¬†downloaded 20 million times.
  • Ge Wang, the creator of Ocarina, our favorite iPhone app, which not only turns the device into a 4-key musical instrument (downloaded nearly 500,000 times at 99-cents each) but lets you hear — in near real time — the music other Ocarina players are making all over the world.

Pogue, joined by Brissette on bass and Wang on iPhone Ocarina, closed the show with two more musical parodies:

  • A song about iTunes to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (“We might prefer more compatibility but Steve likes to run the whole show!”)

  • And a “Switcher’s Anthem” to the tune of Boz Scaggs’ “We’re All Alone.” (“Ditch your Windows, get a clue, a new cult waits for you.”)

Interviewed after the performance, Pogue said that he did not intend to make light of Jobs’ health problems. He believes that the real reason Apple’s CEO skipped the keynote was that Jobs reviewed Apple’s (AAPL) product line-up for Macworld — upgrades of iWork and iLife and a 17″ laptop — and decided it wasn’t worth his time. That, says Pogue, not failing health, is why Jobs had senior vice president Phil Schiller give the keynote in his stead.

The spoonerism of Phil Schiller, Pogue points out, is shill filler.

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