By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
February 8, 2010

Can Apple’s premier trade show survive without Apple? We’ll find out next week

There’ll be no Steve Jobs keynote, no gigantic Apple booth, and only about half as many exhibitors — roughly 220 vs. nearly 500 last year, according to Ars Technica.

But IDG World Expo has determined that the show must go on — at least for one more year — and so from Tuesday Feb. 9 to Saturday Feb. 13, San Franciso’s Moscone Center will host the software vendors, accessory makers, iPhone developers, fanmag publishers, celebrity bloggers, AAPL investors and Mac faithful that are the Apple community.

[UPDATE: As of Wednesday, IDG has 250 exhibitors and 30,000 pre-registered attendees, according to their press person.]

What’s going to make news at Macworld Expo 2010? There’ll be dozens of minor product launches vying for attention, of course. You can read about them here.

And Silicon Alley Insider, citing a French blog, suggests that Apple could front-load the event by refreshing its MacBook Pro line, perhaps as early as Tuesday. (See Apple Store back up. No new Macs.)

But the fun at the show itself, as near as we can tell, will be in the highlights:

  1. David Pogue. Once again, IDG has booked the New York Times‘ leading tech columnist for an hour of clever patter and song parody. Look for lots of iPad jokes and, judging from his Twitter feed, many reader-supplied Funny Fake iPhone Apps. Thursday 9 a.m. PT
  2. Kevin Smith. Who knew that the writer-director of Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma was a rabid fanboy? He’s scheduled to do a “lively, wry and irreverent” Q&A about what it takes to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of indie Hollywood. Thursday 2 p.m. PT
  3. Leo Laporte. The ubiquitous host of This Week in Tech will put on a live webcast that promises “plenty of surprises” and “exciting guests,” starting with — for no reason we can discern — Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Friday 2 p.m. PT
  4. John Gruber. The ill-tempered author of the widely read Daring Fireball blog is flying from Philadelphia, presumably without his “What Are You Looking at ____nose?” t-shirt, to discuss the “top 10 issues facing our world.” Friday 4:30 p.m. PT
  5. The iPad. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, Macworld and who ever is still in town will formally address what you can bet has been the No. 1 topic of conversation all week. How big a hit — or failure — will Steve Jobs’ latest creation be? What, if anything, will be the killer app? How easy or hard will Apple make it for anybody but itself to make money from it?  Saturday 1 p.m. PT

Will there be another Macworld next year? Apple (AAPL) has made it clear that it doesn’t feel it needs IDG. By the end of the week we should have a pretty good sense of whether the Mac community can do without it as well.

We’re flying to San Francisco on Wednesday Tuesday to try to beat the blizzard. Wish us luck.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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