Ken Ray’s WWDC 2011 Preshow Roundup

Mac OS KenLodsys, the patent holding company that’s hitting iPhone and iPad app developers with lawsuits, now has its sights on Android OS developers, and the Interent is packed full of news and rumors about Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference that kicks off next week. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray has his own thoughts on both, and he’s even rounded up some speculation on Apple’s soon to be introduced iCloud service, too.

Lodsys Patent-palooza
It’s apparently not just iOS developers that Lodsys is targeting. Electronista says some developers who employ in-app purchase for Android applications have started receiving “you’re infringing our patent” letters, just like the ones received by developers for iThings.

Apple took ten days to stand up for iOS developers, though it did do so in a fairly decent way, with Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewel sending Lodsys a three page letter pointing out that Apple had licensed the patent or patents in question, and Lodsys needed to lay off the dev types.

Google has a similar license for the Lodsys patent and could stand up for its developers the same way Apple has — it hasn’t so far — then again it’s unclear what affect Apple’s letter to Lodsys will have on the cases against iOS developers.

Hey Lodsys has an idea: Apple can take its three pages about why developers should NOT be sued for allegedly violating Lodsys patents and cram them.

AppleInsider says the patent holding firm filed suit against a number of iOS developers and one Android developer, accusing them of violating patents that they say are related to using in-app purchases to upgrade from Lite — or free — versions of applications to full featured versions.

Lodsys filed its suits with U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, known the world over for siding fairly frequently with patent holders.

It’s WWDC Pre-show Time
The level of speculation ahead of next week’s WWDC Keynote took a pretty substantial hit this week when Apple sent out a press release spilling — what in years past — would have been secrets.

Quoting the company’s release: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote address on Monday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. At the keynote, Apple will unveil its next generation software — Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.

Oh. Okay…

What gives? That’s the short version of the question posed by The New York Times. “New product announcements by Apple usually take place with the secrecy of a clandestine military operation,” begins their piece on the release… so “why did Apple go from clandestine product secrecy to sounding a trumpet a week before its product unveiling?”

The paper of record has Daring Fireballer John Gruber figuring Apple said what it was going to say nearly a week before it says it “to continue setting expectations that there will be no new hardware products announced.”

I wonder if that will work…

I have resisted a lot of Lion rumors, but with only a couple days until the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote there are just too many to ignore.

Here’s what sources tell AppleInsider:

Apple next week is likely to announce that all Mac owners who run the latest version of the OS X operating system, Lion, will also receive at least some of the services from iCloud for free.

That would be a big surprise in a keynote that could be FULL of surprises, hence letting people know ahead of time that iCloud is coming. Can’t have peoples’ heads exploding at Moscone Center from too many surprises at once.

The rumors say iCloud will replace the $99 a year MobileMe and its e-mail, remote file storage, bookmarks syncing, contacts and calendar. Of course, there are free file-sharing services out there and throw a rock and you’ll hit a free email service, so yeah, stuff like that built into Lion for free makes sense.

Not expected to be free: Whatever they’re doing with music. Apple’s reportedly signed new licensing deals for whatever they plan to do with music and the cloud, complete with fees that are likely to be passed on to the consumer.

Yet another secret source says Apple may keep the price of Lion low, maybe not as low at the $29 upgrade price carried by Snow Leopard. But who knows?

RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky says iCloud and iOS 5 will expand the markets for the iPhone and iPad. He expects iCloud to be more than just a digital “locker” service. In fact, he thinks “iCloud could be an important step for Apple, making it so users are not required to have a Mac or PC to sync their device, or store music and movies.”

What… some kind of post-PC world thing?

He knows they’re also introducing Lion, right?

Abramsky sees a new iOS, one where users no longer need to tether to a machine to upgrade their software, moving Apple’s addressable market from the 1.3 billion people worldwide who own traditional computers to the 5.1 billion people worldwide who own cellphones.

Abramksy also expects the launch of iCloud to be much better than the launch of MobileMe, partly because Apple has more to offer this time, and partly because… seriously how could it be worse?

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu thinks iCloud could be a game-changer. The Wuiner figures most of next Monday’s keynote will focus on iCloud, which he believes “could be a very big deal…” likely making iTunes more powerful.

Quoting his note:

We notice that every time a new feature is added to iTunes (like TV and movie rentals), its utility value increases, which in turn drives more hardware sales, i.e., iPhone, iPad and Macs.

He sees next to nothing coming in the way of new hardware. Maybe new Macs with Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, but no new iPhone.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna says Apple’s revolution lies in the software. He has next to no expectation for new hardware and thinks the keynote will be about the software and iCloud — kind of like Apple said in its press release.

Thing is he’s cool with no hardware saying advances in Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud could be “much more revolutionary” than an iPhone 4S or 5.

Quoting his note, “We will be looking to measure whether the advances are enhancements to consumer-centric offerings such as iTunes and MobileMe, or virtualization breakthroughs that pave the way for more significant enterprise, social networking, and/or multimedia inroads.”

Gauna thinks Apple is in a “unique position to shock and awe with enhancements, extensions and harmonization” with Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud, and is “capable of distancing itself from Android’s gathering momentum.”

Over now to Forbes, which has Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes agreeing with RBC’s Abramsky that Apple’s iCloud could help sell more iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Okay… MOSTLY agreeing with Abramsky.

Quoting the Reitzes report:

We continue to look for Apple to use its iCloud service to “lock in” customers to its ecosystem by making content available seamlessly on all of its devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and Macs). We believe that Apple could charge a recurring fee for this service and will likely offer much more available memory than competitors since its users have much larger libraries of music, movies and photos.

AT&T: We’re Meh
And to wrap up the week, a surprise at D9 from the top guy at AT&T Wireless. AllThingsD has Dark Lord of the Cell Ralph de a Vega saying that his company is not happy with the state of its call quality, especially for iPhone owners.

“I think that customers are seeing improvement,” said de la Vega, “[but] we are not happy where we are.”

How much am I paying each month?