Apple WWDC 2012

It is becoming one of the big industry events from the industries biggest company, Apple.  The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. A lot of rumours about what is coming out and as usual a lot of excitement. This one on the heels of E3. One thing I have noticed all be it rather slowly at my age is what is perceived as cool. Hardware. As much as my former software guru Bill Gates loved to say about software, “it’s where the magic happens”, these days make no mistake about it, people want cool hardware. That is why many reporters are calling this years big game conference, E3, underwhelming.  A lot of new software but no new cool hardware.  With WWDC 2012 it will be all about what new hardware is being released.  At conferences where many are being streamed to people’s office desk, not so at WWDC.  You need to be there.

From what we heard this week there were some announcements about new hardware from Apple.  Starting with the Mac Book Pro.  From what was announced there is not anything earth shattering about the new product.  Sure it has an improved processor.  It is thinner.  It has a new Retina display.  I will add that Mac displays are very nice compared to their PC counterparts. From what I have read it’s a nice to have but it still has an Apple price tag.   It costs a lot (over $2199).  But it is not a game changer, which is what we expect from Apple.  This is more like a traditional PC upgrade.  Takes advantage of the latest internal system upgrades, from Intel and others, however there is no “wow” factor.  I think the biggest game changer that could have been made is dropping the price.  It would be interesting to see how Apple would fair if they chose to move down into Microsoft’s playing field.  Would Microsoft’s dominance be challenged?  I would love to have a Mac Book Pro, but the current price keeps me away as I am a notorious cheap skate. It would be fun to see a Macbook compete on price and a good browser-based device undercut them both, just to see what would happen in the market.

Probably some of the more exciting stuff happening is in Apple’s competition with Google.  Specifically in mapping software.  Based on some of the last comments from Steve Jobs prior to his death, Google is Apple’s number one target.  To date Google has also been a major player in providing search and mapping capabilities to the iPhone and iPad platforms (not to mention Google owns YouTube).  Apple announced its own 3D maps software for the iPhone.  This is going to be a challenge to Apple’s high standards.  Anyone who has an  iPhone (I own a one), has found the usefulness of the Google maps software in the iPhone.  It basically killed the need for a Garmin GPS device in most vehicles on the road.  You will still be able to get Google’s app on the app store, but in the future more and more of the key software will be Apple software.  What will be interesting is what will Apple do about search?  Right now Google is still kind and I know Microsoft has been trying to get Apple to use Bing as its default search, but as a user I have to admit Bing is still not as good as Google’s search.  However should it get close enough I can see this as  a deal that will happen.  Microsoft has a lot of cash and I bet it is willing to spend it if it makes Bing relevant.  It used to be the most valuable real estate in the world was being on the Windows start page, now make no mistake the most valuable real state is on the iPhone and iPad.

The final big release in my view is iOS6, which by itself may not sound like a big deal.  However when you think about the upcoming release of the iPhone 5 possibly gives us a glimpse into what we can expect.  Though not a lot was shared at the conference, one thing is certain based on the rumors is tighter integration with Facebook is on the way.  Not just on the phone but the desktop as well.  For the ultimate consumer driven tech company I think this was just a matter of time.  Facebook is a behemoth and despite its flailing IPO I believe is set to be a major force in technology for the next decade.  This could be one of those features that drive more sales of iPhones, iPads, and Mac Books.

When I look at other things that came out of the conference I am interested in the LiquidMetal planned to be used in the next release of the iPhone.  I am also interested to see what progress is made in Siri.  Voice recognition technology has been around a long time, but usually it has been so bad it has not been worth the effort.  Though Siri has had its share of hiccups, it does seem to be popular in a way that voice recognition has not been before.  Maybe it is getting close to time where it can finally be useful to the masses.  Another are I am interested in is Apple’s cloud services.  In the industry we all know the cloud is here and set to grow exponentially.  If Apple is successful with the iCloud and things like cloud based music services the impact would be to further set Apple apart from its competition.

Was this a huge WWDC for Apple?  No.  It was really more of an event that seemed to promise better things in the future, specifically WWDC 2013.  But Apple is still in the zone where we all pay attention to what they say.  That is not a bad place to be because when you have that position the public waits and it keeps your competition at arm’s length.  Do it too often and people will g elsewhere as the competition never sleeps

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Henrik Hoffmann June 14, 2012

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