I had planned my June 1st blog entry to be speculation on the announcements to come in a few days at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. In what I think is a somewhat unusual move for them, though, Apple announced some of their plans early on Tuesday. Maybe it’s an effort to take some control back since so much ink gets spent speculating on their next move. Like in this blog post you’re reading right now!
To be fair, the things they announced were the things that most of us knew were coming. The industry expects WWDC this year to include details of the major Apple Operating Systems – MacOS and iOS. Developer releases and a set of coalescing rumors point the way to a few specifics.
MacOS 10.7 (Lion) is the next release of the MacOS operating system and is expected to have modest Finder updates including some organizing and launching tools inspired by iOS, some native application improvements in tools such as Mail, Address Book and iCal, and some facility enhancements such as a re-designed Spaces and Expose’.
iOS 5 is the next OS release for Apple's mobile devices (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad), and may include a significant new capability -- the ability to sync and upgrade over WiFi and carrier wireless networks. It will also need to have some new capabilities to leverage the new iCloud service. In related news, a newly updated iWork Suite for iPad and iPhone was also announced during the week leading up to WWDC.
The rumors about the upcoming iCloud service have been coming fast and furious, partly fueled by Apple's major ramp up of a massive east coast data center, partly fueled by recent changes in terms and pricing on Apple's current MobileMe service. iCloud could be the successor to the MobileMe cloud storage service, but that may be just the beginning. Like recent offerings from Google and Amazon, iCloud is likely to include the ability to store and stream media to mobile devices. Unlike those services, iCloud may allow more advanced functionality, such as the ability to scan your media library and rapidly make high quality versions of those media files available without uploading, thanks to Apple's deals with most or all of the major record labels. Similar handling of television and movie content would be a bonus.
WWDC is first and foremost a software event. A significant hardware announcement this year seems unlikely. Mac hardware updates tend to come throughout the year, and a new iPad was announced only a few months ago. So the biggest speculation is still around the iPhone. After all, there is some history of iPhone announcements at WWDC. But this is probably the year that the faithful get disappointed. Back on April 13th, I blogged on why Apple probably will not announce a new iPhone. I'm still betting that we get no iPhone news during June, and instead get a new iPhone in the fall.
A longshot hardware announcement could be a hybrid device that looks something like a MacBook Air but that runs iOS. This would be a lightweight device with a keyboard, modest processor and storage, and a lower price point than today's MacBook Air.
In summary, I think we'll hear plenty about iOS and MacOS, I think the big news will be about iCloud, and I think we'll get little if any hardware news.
What do you think? Please share your comments here.