He wasn't lining up for an interview with Ryan Seacrest about what designer made his suit, but a few eagle-eyed bloggers on location at the 82nd Academy Awards on Sunday evening say that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was in attendance. In a tux, not a black turtleneck.
Blogger and Web video personality Wayne Sutton snapped a far-away shot of someone whom he believed to be Jobs, accompanied with "OMG it's Steve Jobs! I'm the only one yelling at him." Indeed, Sutton's photo shows Jobs' unmistakable profile filing into the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. CNET has placed an inquiry to Apple PR to verify that it is indeed him (Jobs has a famous satire-blog impersonator, after all).
Jobs has reason to be at the Oscars, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he once got played onscreen by actor Noah Wylie in a made-for-TV movie: the Apple CEO acquired animation studio Pixar in 1986 before selling it to Disney two decades later. He's now the largest individual shareholder in Disney; the Pixar film "Up" was nominated for the Best Animated Feature and Best Picture category this year.
But Jobs is also an ambiguous, powerful figure in the entertainment industry. Movie sales and rentals in Apple's iTunes Store required extensive negotiations, something that the public debut of its iPad tablet device next month may render even more complicated. Its Apple TV device has been one of the company's more low-profile products, but with the cable industry in more turmoil than ever (namely the battle between Cablevision and the Disney-owned ABC), it could be Apple's turn to flex a bigger muscle in video and broadcast entertainment.
That could make for some interesting conversation at Oscar afterparties. But at least for now, Jobs' evening is probably focused on "Up."
UPDATE (5:15 p.m. PT): Twitter user John Chu nabbed a picture at the Oscars with Steve Jobs, more or less proving that it actually is Steve Jobs.
UPDATE (5:54 p.m. PT): A commercial for the iPad, making public its April 3 release date, ran during the Oscars, though that's not necessarily correlated with Jobs' attendance. The ad ran in the commercial break following Christoph Waltz's acceptance of the Best Supporting Actor award for "Inglorious Basterds."
UPDATE (5:59 p.m. PT): "Up" has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
UPDATE (6:23 p.m. PT): Here's somebody's grainy screen-grab of the video, which is currently the only version of the first-ever iPad TV advertisement that's online:
UPDATE (6:47 p.m. PT): The video of the iPad ad is live, but not embeddable, on Apple's Web site. The song playing in the ad is "There Goes My Love" by a Danish band called The Blue Van, from its 2008 album "Man Up."
UPDATE (7:14 p.m. PT): The iPad commercial has run again.