Monday, June 11, 2012

WWDC pre-game show for publishers

It is sometimes hard to keep track of all the Apple special events, so I thought it might be worth giving TNM readers a bit of a preview of what to expect, and what to pay attention to, in all the WWDC hoopla.

First, it is important to remember that Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is not a new event, it's been around for years. The purpose of the event is to present to developers new software, training, updates. Before the introduction of the iPhone, the WWDC was exclusively a Mac event. But since 2008, at least, the event has been targeted more and more to iOS, and consequently the event has been an instant sell out.

Apple has, though, used the WWDC keynote as an opportunity to introduce hardware. This year may be no exception as rumors are rife that Apple will update much, if not all, of its Mac hardware. But the iPhone now has its own launch event (in the fall) and the iPad event is earlier in the year.

So while much of the tech world will be talking about new hardware like updated Mac Pros (long over due), it is the software updates that should grab the attention of publishers.

Most rumor sites agree that the new version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 6, will appear in beta. If history is any guide, it should be available to download shortly after the WWDC keynote today (you have to have a developer license, of course). A new version of Safari, and the first appearance in public of Mountain Lion, Apple's new Mac OS, can be expected, as well.

As I wrote on Friday, the Apple TV would be my headline grabber. The Apple TV runs iOS, but unlike other iOS devices, the Apple TV is currently not open to third party developers. An open Apple TV would instantly transform the device from a streaming tool to a major gaming platform.

For publishers, an open Apple TV would also mean that the television is now open to new forms of publishing products. If digital replica editions of print magazines are the rage on the iPad, I suppose we can expect similarly unimaginative products for the Apple TV. But creative publishers would certainly think of better and more appropriate ways to "publisher" to the HDTV (or at least I hope so).

My one and only prediction for today's big WWDC event is this: we won't see Jony Ive, Apple's British design guru (and now "Sir" Jony Ive) until late in the event. After all, the England-France Euro 2012 match won't be completed until late in the presentation.