Just how used the world is to the idea of a Jobless Macworld keynote and an Apple-less Macworld Expo next year and forever more should become apparent today as Macworld Expo springs to life/death.

Visitors turning up for their show badges are already being bombarded with Macworld Expo 2010 promotion, under the rather optimistic statement "The start of a new era".

That is, either the start of a show unburdened of Apple's controlling presence or the beginning of the end.

I've been to a few pre-Steve Apple keynotes at Macworld Expo, and can assure you that they weren't as much fun - unless you find the idea of squirming through a Gil Amelio bore-a-thon to your taste.

Macworld Expo 2010

For a start, Apple used to brief the press on pretty much everything it planned to release in the next six months or so. No secrets. No surprises.

But today's Apple keynote, presented by the avuncular Phil Schiller - Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing - is this year's big surprise already. Will he try to be more like Steve. Will he stink?

Here's something that I think could be a real possibility. Maybe the Schiller Show could be even better than just another Stevenote - a format that's maybe getting a little too predictable. They should rotate presenters, just like the hosts on ‘Have I Got News For You'.

Next year could have been the Jonathan Ive softly spoken keynote, with polite applause only and everyone sat on Charles and Ray Eames furniture.

Woz could even do one, and blather on about the Apple II for a few hours while roaming the stage on a Segway.

Maybe Apple should Think Different and ask Bill Gates and Michael Dell to present one year, in sackcloth and ashes.

The best thing I've seen on the prospects for the Schiller Show is this cartoon by The Joy of Tech - long-time purveyors of ultimate fanboy fun.

Joy of Tech Phil Schiller keynote

Next year's show without the giant Apple stand is going to be a letdown for those showgoers who don't have regular access to an Apple Store, but any companies still deciding to attend should get a lot more attention.

I hope it isn't the case but my guess is that the show will decline into hundreds of little booths showing off iPod cases centred around a giant Quark stand, and disappear/merge into a conference-only event from 2011.

The Mac community will survive somehow despite Apple's attempts to smother it with a giant iPillow. Check out the new Mac movie MacHEADS (MacHEADS review), which premieres tomorrow at Expo, for a fascinating glimpse into the world of the devoted Mac user and their fight for survival.