WWDC Keynote Predictions

| Hidden Dimensions

"Never make predictions, especially about the future."

-- Casey Stengel

My approach to predictions for WWDC is not to look at what cool hardware might be released. That's merely fantasizing about what we want.  Instead, I think about what Apple's current agenda is. With that in mind, it's not hard to make predictions for the WWDC Keynote.

Apple is a leader because they know what they want.  When you think about it, knowing what you want is one pre-requisite for leadership. That's why sessions at WWDC are approved based not only technical merit but on where Apple is headed, what it wants and where it wants to take developers.

Snow Leopard

Apple has been working on Snow Leopard for well over a year. While we take it for granted that Snow Leopard will be superior to Windows 7,  Apple has to first do the hard work of developing tools and APIs and then get developers excited about them.  It's that excitement that translates into products that showcase the back end work Apple has done. So I look for Mr. Schiller to start out with an update on Snow Leopard, OpenCL, Grand Central, and the next version of Xcode to exploit all of that.

Because Apple made a big deal about Exchange server in Snow Leopard and because Apple likes to work itself, on its own terms, into small to medium businesses, I also expect to see some demos of an iPhone connecting to a Snow Leopard server running Microsoft Exchange to check corporate e-mail.  That's an agenda item, but not vert sexy, so I also expect to see some Leopard vs. Snow Leopard speed demos, using highly threaded apps, and that ought to get the juices flowing in the audience.

A late beta copy of Snow Leopard and the latest Xcode will be given out after the Keynote, but the version of Snow Leopard will be just good enough to generate some buzz, do those final developer compiles, but won't be feature complete or bug free enough to use for every day use. For that, we'll have to pay more money in September. Snow Leopard will not be supported on PPC Macs.

iPhone Incremania

Next on Apple's agenda is fanning the flames of frenzy for the iPhone market place.  To do that, I would expect to see two things: first, Mr.  Schiller will show the sales growth numbers for the iPhone along with some cleverly selected data to suggest that RIM and Nokia are having some difficulties in the consumer market.  This will put the idea in the developers' minds that they've selected the winning horse and that there's lots of money to be made. Secondly, there will some demos of apps by Apple (creating inspiration) and hand selected developers (creating envy) that showcase the new features of iPhone OS 3.0.

Next, Mr. Schiller will announce some a new iPhone and price changes.  There won't be any mention of a deal with Verizon, but there will be an introductory discussion of AT&Ts 7.2 HSPA network. Perhaps we'll see some download demos comparing 3.6 HSPA vs 7.2 HSPA.  

Then,  Mr. Schiller will introduce a new 32 GB iPhone based on that new standard. (It will be backwards compatible to EDGE.). It'll have a few extra features that will lure a lot of people without an iPhone into the fold, but won't be enough to make the rest of us ditch our current 3G iPhones. For example, an Organic LED display (OLED) and a better camera.

Finally, Mr Schiller will announce that  Apple and AT&T are lowering the price of the subsidized 16 GB 3.6 HSPA iPhone to US$129.99 and AT&T is lowering the data plan price by $10/month.  The new 32 GB high end iPhone will inherit the previous $199.99 price point.

Gradual Awakening

When we journalists walk out of the Presidio Hall, we'll feel a bit let down at first. No Media Pad. No MacNetBook. No new 30-inch display with DisplayPort. No new Apple TV. But then, after a little bit of reflection, we'll rush back to the press room and write about how Apple's Snow Leopard will make Windows 7 look just silly, how Mac Pros will be transformed by Snow Leopard into computational behemoths and how the iPhone has now further extended its lead over the competition. Turn out the lights, the Palm Pre party is already over.

Developers will walk out of the hall feeling that they picked the right company, and that company has provided them with the right tools.  As a result, they'll be able to make bunches of money.  That's, after all, the goal of a keynote, affirmation and inspiration.

Not a lot of glitz there, but business as usual for Apple at WWDC.

Comments

vince7

I agree with you John.  I see Apple as being in a consolidating mode at the moment.  Enough new products have been introduced at this point.  As I stated in another TMO blog, Snow Leopard is the hottest ticket gong.

Leopard already has a great feature set.  The time is right for some under the hood tweaking.  I can hardly wait to see how Snow improves performance on my 24” 2.8 GHz Extreme Core 2 Duo iMac.  I recently upped the RAM to 4 Gig.  Now all that is left for me is to to buy the new multi-threading apps.

In this tight economy it is n ice to get such an upgrade without the cost of a new computer.  I am sorry for the PPC users but progress marches on.

Chaz

Unfortunately, I have one of the original Intel iMac’s, 1.83GHz core duo, I’m guessing I’m hosed too, because it’s not truly multicore and no separate video card.

rwahrens

Chaz, I’ve got a Core Duo MacBook, which, like yours, isn’t 64 bit and has no separate video card.

But we ARE Intel, and while we won’t see the full horsepower of SL, we should see some speed bumps due to leaner code.

Pashtun Wally

CoreDuo is not really multi-core?
I’ve seen nothing to suggest this - care to explain?

While I’m not expecting “ludicrous speed” from Snow Leopard, I *am* expecting a significant, noticeable increase…if for no other reason than because in the current economic situation, a significant speed-bump that does NOT require new hardware will FLY off the shelves.  It was, after all, one of the stated goals of 10.6:  not to deliver on that would be a self-inflicted wound, administered very publicly.  It may only show its true glory during encodes, decodes, compression, and other such large-file processing, but honestly:  where ELSE would you be happier with it?

Without such a speed bump, I’d expect sales of 10.6 to be miniscule.

An iPhone & a switch to ATT is already on my list;  if an upgraded 32gb comes in at the $199 slot, I’m sold!  However, I will not be entertained if the $10 data-plan reduction is accompanied by a service ceiling: the appeal of an ‘unlimited data plan is that it is UNLIMITED.  That would be a crappy trade-off for a mere $10 reduction!

Thanks as always for a great piece, John!

mark

Agree with most of what you wrote but there’s no way a 16GB iPhone will be US$129. Maybe an 8GB at that price (or more likely at $149 with a 4GB at $99). The 16GB will be US$199, and the 32GB will be US$299. I also hope that the lower priced data plan will still be unlimited but only available for the cheaper lower-speed (3.6M) phones. And I hope there’s no price increase for the unlimited data plans for the faster (7.2M) phones.

Also the new iPhones (7.2M) will focus on a theme, which I think will be video (record, edit, upload, chat, buy & download), all of which will then be demoed.

rwahrens

Mark has it on the “mark” on the prices!

I’ve heard it said tho, that the lower priced plan will be a capped plan, that the unlimited plan will remain $30.  I see no reason why they would increase their price for a faster phone, plenty of folks were griping over just $30.

The implication for the lower priced plan was that it was for the cheaper phone, as the same article was speculating on that $99 phone.  I don’t think they mentioned what the cap would be.

Peter

“CoreDuo is not really multi-core?”

Core Duo is multicore.  However, Core Duo is not 64-bit.

I gotta admit, I’m curious as to whether Apple is going to release anything at WWDC.  I have no doubts they’ll talk about Snow Leopard and I doubt they’ll release it, but I think we’ll get a release date.  I have no doubts they’ll talk about iPhone OS 3.0, but I don’t think it will be released.

The new hardware question is interesting.  I tend to agree that we won’t see a NetPad, iPad, NetMacBook, ThinBook, or whatever.  That would leave a new iPhone.  Now there would be some good reasons (*cough* Pre *cough*) for Apple to mention a new phone and new software and a general date (ie, “Summer”), just to freeze Pre’s sales (“The new Pre looks good, but I think I’ll wait and see what Apple comes up with…”).  Of course, it will also freeze iPhone sales, but Apple doesn’t need iPhone sales like Palm needs Pre sales.

mark

“I see no reason why they would increase their price for a faster phone”  - Yes, there is no reason why but they did it last year.

Capped plans suck; I hope they don’t go down that path though I think they will. They should do what home broadband does, the plans are “uncapped” but you pay more for faster speeds.

Lee Dronick

As you all may know I have one of the new iPod Shuffles and have come to appreciate VoiceOver, not that I have much of a choice. Anyway, after my road trip last week I was thinking how handy it would be to have that feature on the iPhone. Hover you finger over an icon and hear the name of the app, use it to dial the phone, or other things that Apple has already thought of doing with it.

Bertie

Whilst i agree for the most part on the above article, i do see evidence that Apple is being FORCED into the gaming market and so a Console (or Media Hub - that plays games) is esential for the survival of itunes and the ipod line. Firstly Snow Leopard makes better use of multiple cpus and gpu which would be essential in an effiecent gaming system. SECONDLY Microsfot with it Xbox 360 and Zune market place intergrration is going to by-pass itunes installed on pc and enable consumers to download straight to the xbox in FULL HD with the new zune being able to sync to this system. As much as a don’t like to say it Microsoft have thought this one through, and unless Apple act soon to place a system (naturally superiour) into this market place they will see market share slip away.

ctopher

OK, Keynote done. $99 iPhone (Current Gen) new iPhones, no price increase. New macbooks, didn’t see that coming huh?

Snow Leopard - A geeks dream and a consumer yawn. (that is until consumers find it’s more productive, but Apple has got to articulate that in an understandable way.)

SEO Experts

Apple has to first do the hard work of developing tools and APIs and then get developers excited about them.  It’s that excitement that translates into products that showcase the back end work Apple has done. So I look for Mr. Schiller to start out with an update on Snow Leopard, OpenCL, Grand Central, and the next version of Xcode to exploit all of that.

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