WWDC Feels All New Again

WWDC has had pretty much the same flavor for the last 15 years, having been mostly about the Mac. This yearis keynote made it perfectly clear: the Next Big Thing has arrived and consists of a new major platform, the iPhone, a new generation of iPhone developers and new Apple leaders. The air was electric with anticipation.

This year, the Apple conference was sold out early, with 5,200 attendees. Thatis because, in addition to the rising popularity of the Mac and new opportunities there, developers have already sensed the overwhelming potential of iPhone development. The keynote emphasized that by bringing out, under the supervision of Scott Forstall, a long sequence of really cool iPhone apps; Super Monkey Ball, eBay, Loopt, the Associated Press Mobile News Network, Enigmo, Cro Mag Rally, Band (by Moo Cow Music), and MLB.com with realtime scores and highlights.

The feeling I got was that the torch has been passed. Combined with the revelation of a recent patent filing, itis clear that Apple has moved dramatically forward with the developer process while other smartphone makers have simply squandered the last year planning to imitate, as best they can, some of the touch screen features of the iPhone.

By creating a consistent architecture of development, with a common OS and developer tools, Apple has enabled developers to build cool applications faster than the competition. That means that even smartphones that look sexy in a TV ad are devoid of the massive developer culture that will emerge to support the iPhone as the next major platform.

In the fifteen years Iive been at WWDC, Iive never felt this sense of renewal and possibilities for the future. The keynote presentations by Jobs, Forstall and Schiller made it perfectly clear - the iPhone platform, the new starship departing this year for a distant solar system, is ready for warp speed. All the competition can do is look on with a heavy heart and a feeling that Apple and its developers will pass them by as they warp into a brand new future.

The adventure has just begun.