The Keynote

There have been great Macworld and WWDC keynote presentations by Steve Jobs, but this keynote was not one of them.

I was awake at oh-dark-thirty, of course. After attending 13 previous WWDCs, I advise newbies that no matter how early one gets in line for the WWDC keynote, itis impossible to be happy with the appalling number of people already in line. For this yearis keynote, which started at 10:00 AM, that meant getting in line around 7:00 AM. What the heck, I slept in and got there about 7:30. That got me a seat about one third of the way back in the massive Presidio auditorium.

Keynotes should be exciting. In my opinion, the best keynote Mr. Jobs ever gave was Macworld 2007 when he introduced the iPhone. There was passion, excitement, and inspiration. The futcha....

For this WWDC keynote, not so much. Oh, I know, itis very business like. This was a keynote for 5,000 developers. Time to get down to business.

Even so, I always felt that after Macworld New York was abandoned, there was an implied contract with the Apple community. You see, it was just too expensive to send thousands of people and millions of dollars worth of equipment to New York every summer - especially after WWDC in May. And Apple didnit have complete control; IDG got to call a lot of the shots.

So when Apple moved the summer extravaganza to San Francisco, the feeling by many was that, since the WWDC keynote is open and covered by the press, something similarly exciting should occur.

Well, some things were exciting. But not enough to blow away investors, or me for that matter.

Donit misunderstand. I really felt that a new Mac OS X Finder was essential. We got that. The 3-D dock is awesome. The move to a consistent window theme is terrific. Even more strategic was the introduction of Safari for Windows. But did it rate, "One more thing"? Maybe. Maybe not. In the long run, thatis going to be a huge factor in the success of the iPhone. However, on this particular day, it wasnit in the normal class of One-More-Thing revelations.

Other things missing from the keynote included: New displays, iWork, any mention of an updated .Mac, or new hardware of any kind. No wonder Wall Street blinked.

On the upside, whether Apple developers like it or not, Apple came up with the best way for developers to develop for the iPhone without jeopardizing the security and reliability of the iPhone. Iim referring to the Web 2.0 + AJAX technique that keeps iPhone apps constrained to the Safari sand box. Thatis very important and comes first, whether developers like it or not. In time, the rules will change, but not until Apple ensures a successful launch.

Also, in the long run, Safari for Windows is a stroke of genius. Apple has the delivery mechanism in iTunes and can take advantage of the slow trend away from IE. Why let Firefox control that market when, after all, there are iPhones to be sold to PC users? Getting them involved with Safari is a very good idea.

Itis almost as if Apple is engaging in the venerable: "Embrace, extend, and extinguish" practice, but now Microsoft is the victim. Brilliant.

Another plus is that Carbon, supported for so long, and with good reason, will finally start to step into history. There will never be a 64-bit Carbon. Iim not sorry to see it go.

Finally, it seems to me that the next year will see the emergence of a whole new class of applications. Apple has put the pieces in place, and theyire starting to mature, to wit, Core Graphics, Core Animation, 64-bit OpenGL, Webkit and Image kit. Leopard, Xcode 3, and the new developer tools will accelerate this process, and a lot of developers will start to create some truly amazing visual apps.

So while the new user features of Leopard will certainly be worth the money, itis the new APIs enabling this new breed of Web and media apps under the hood that will make the investment really pay off.

I just wish the keynote had been a little bit more dramatic. Mr. Jobs demonstrated ten new features of Leopard, many of which weid seen before, and frankly, I thought the applause after each of the ten features was less than ecstatic. I also sensed that Mr. Jobs felt that lack of exuberance, and it may have drained his energy. Iim guessing he knew early in the keynote that there just wasnit going to be pandemonium in the aisles.

Considering what time 5,000 of us dragged ourselves out of bed on Monday morning, a little pandemonium is all we ask.