What Apple Must Address at WWDC ’10

By Rahul Dowlath | Apple

The World Wide Developers Conference, probably the largest Apple-run event of the year since the Cupertino-based brand pulled out of MacWorld San Francisco, is quickly approaching. The event is set to run from June 7-11.

This is usually the time that CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage at the opening keynote to present the company’s sales reports, product achievements, and more importantly, the next iPhone. But recent activities at One Infinite Loop have left many die-hard Apple fans with mixed emotions, as their once-revered brand has taken a turn for the worse.

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We could attribute this decline in brand image to the loss of the prototype version for the next iPhone, rumoured to be called the iPhone 4G, in a bar near the company’s main campus. Before this event, Apple was famous for its Fort Knox-rivaling sense of security. Employees have been rumored to work on the next generation of iGadgets under strict security conditions: 24-hour camera monitoring, working underneath boxes covered in black cloth, and having to switch on a red warning light if a prototype is exposed. Many lambasted this as being “ridiculous”, but at the end of the day it ensured top-notch quality products; trend-setting devices in the tech world.

apple_and_adobeThen there’s the Apple vs. Adobe debacle: Adobe creates a 3rd-party development tool, utilizing Flash technology, to allow developers to create apps for the iPhone OS. Apple suddenly comes out with a new developer policy stating that apps made with such 3rd-party code would not be accepted for their vague review process.

Adobe criticizes Apple of not supporting developer freedom, and confining software makers to using only one set of development tools. Apple, in response, posts a lengthy article written by Mr Jobs himself talking about how Apple is wanting to embrace “open web standards” with HTML 5 — in my opinion totally evading the whole point of Adobe’s argument. That’s why I was happy to see Adobe’s new advertising campaign, the “We ? Apple, but we also love developer freedom”, which is being aired on prominent blogs and print media, such as The New York Times.

That is why its important for Mr Jobs, when he takes the stage at this year’s WWDC keynote, to address the direction his company is headed in. At the moment it appears that Apple is focussing a bit too much on their beloved iPhone platform, and many Mac users, myself included, are feeling a bit “left out in the cold” with no apparent signs of Mac development. In fact, Apple has now removed the “Mac apps” category from the Apple Design Awards, the coveted software awards given out to developers of significant apps, and instead only has awards for iPhone OS applications. It’s as if growth in the Mac sphere — the “real” computing platform — has been strangled somewhat.

Mr Jobs needs to address the Mac platform in a deeper context, provide us with insights into the company’s vision, and hopefully give us some indication as to where OS X is headed — Mac OS X 10.7, that is.

What do you think — has Apple lost its street cred? Or is this just a rough patch that they’ll easily overcome?

About the Author

I'm a young writer from South Africa, chronicling the changing tides in the ever-flowing river of technology. Focusing mainly on Apple-related technologies, I enjoy sharing my opinion and giving a few tips and tricks here and there on the latest and greatest from 1 Infinite Loop. I'm an avid blogger, and an even more avid reader.

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(4) comments

Aaron Sokol May 19, 2010

I’m a college technology student who has been groomed with the idea that Macs are the greatest thing ever and I bought into it a little bit because of apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic, and all the professionals that work on macs, but since I really sat down and began using macs all the glitter and sunshine has been sucked away like the sputtering fan on a Pentium chip workstation trying to run Windows Vista.

Almost nothing I have done in the field of video and audio production has went smoothly on any mac and the list of bugs and incompatibilities involving these darling machines of the elite that “just work” has been staggering. The only honest praise I can give Apple is for the cool trackpads on their Macbook Pros (after you navigate to its properties and enable right clicking that is.) Mac only had street cred before I first tried to work with one.

Reply
    Rahul Dowlath May 20, 2010

    Aaron, I agree with you that their trackpads rock — I love it on my MacBook unibody! Although I’ve heavily criticized Apple in this post, I still remain faithful to the brand… and then again, remember that Macs and Windows platforms work best for each individual, depending on your own needs; maybe the Mac is not suited for your work? Although I haven’t personally tried their “pro” line of software, I hear that Final Cut Express/Pro is brilliant, but does come with a bit of a learning curve. If you’re back to PC, why not give Sony Vegas a try? I’ve used this for many presentations, and its worked well for me.

    Reply
Dave May 19, 2010

Long time Mac owner (4 laptops, 1 PowerMac, 1 mini), Cocoa hobbyist (my bread money comes from doing SAP ABAP), and all-around Apple fan and investor here.

I just don’t agree.

(1) When it comes to the later rounds of testing an iPhone, what can one do BUT take it out in public? And where there’s a risk of an accident, well….

(2) Having owned an iPhone since July 2007 I can tell you that I don’t miss Flash one bit. And ClickToFlash enhanced my Safari browsing experience to a point of it now being my main browser over Firefox. But you made a subtle-but-important mistake – you leave one with the impression that Adobe’s development tool would somehow “utilize” Flash *on* a Cocoa Touch device. Wrong. It compiles to Cocoa Touch.

(3) With today’s MacBook speed bump, Apple has pretty much delivered an update, however small or large, to every single Mac they make over the last 12 months. With 10.6.0 released last August, they released their 7th major version of OS X this decade. And with 10.6.3 released last month (and the 4th beta of 10.6.4) I think you can safely say they are still actively developing for the Mac.

Sure, it is disappointing that the majority of their efforts leading up to WWDC are for touch driven mobile devices. And yes, the one thing I completely agree with you about is that WWDC is worthless for a Mac developer to go to.

But you know what? Back in MWSF ’07 Steve Jobs talked about building a four-legged stool. While at the time he was referring to the iPhone and AppleTV as the two new legs, he was only half right. Comparing Apple (or AAPL’s stock price) from before MWSF ’07 and today, I only see major new strengths.

They make their own chips. They developed the best touch OS seen. They’ve commanded world-wide attention.

And oh yeah, except for a non-replacable battery (but it does have a charge life about 4x what it replaced), my unibody 13″ MacBook Pro is the best laptop I have ever owned!

Reply
    Rahul Dowlath May 20, 2010

    Dave, you have brought up some excellent points. I must apologize for my vague statement — what I meant was that Adobe has come out with a tool that allows developers to use Flash technology to develop iPhone OS apps, instead of using Apple’s proprietary tools (Xcode, etc.)

    Let’s just hope (and I’m quite positive that it will happen) that some light is shed on Apple’s new stance as they emerge further into the mobile sphere. Who knows, perhaps even HTML5 will prove to be great at handling content in the long-run…

    Reply
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