WWDC 2008: Switch on that reality distortion field, Steve

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WWDC 2008: Switch on that reality distortion field, Steve

Chicago (IL) – The next big Apple event is appearing on our horizon. The company has provided first details about tracks and sessions at its WWDC 2008 conference, scheduled to open on June. The topics of 60 sessions have been revealed last week, describing what Apple calls a “landmark event”.  For the first time, the company will be diving deep into iPhone software development, trying to sell developers on its vision that the iPhone is not just a phone, but a new segment in mobile computing.  

Apple has a tradition of teasing upcoming events with images that carry a certain message that is not obvious at first sight: WWDC 2008 is promoted with two Golden Gate bridges, spreading apart going South towards San Francisco and getting closer to the North. We can’t claim that we have completely deciphered Apple’s message, but, in combination with the confirmation information is closed, we have a pretty good idea about Apple’s latest pitch.

Other than in previous years, when WWDC was strictly Mac-related, this year’s event will be separated into three major areas. First, you will see the usual Mac and Mac OS X Leopard development tracks; second, there will be IT tracks for professionals who integrate Apple’s hardware into business applications; third, Apple scheduled dedicated iPhone tracks covering development of both native and web apps as well but also interesting areas such as 3D graphics optimization and network implementation.

Of course, all eyes are already on iPhone development, recently released SDK and the upcoming iPhone Software Update 2.0. A few key tracks hinting to this release include “Core Animation and Address Book”, which is expected to describe a way for developers to connect their applications to iPhone’s centralized address book to use this information for, for example, email clients. There is also a session called “Enhancing Your iPhone Web Application with CSS Transforms and Animations”, which indicates that the iPhone’s current Safari browser will be updated to Safari 3.1 in the upcoming iPhone Software Update 2.0.

The sheer amount of iPhone sessions as well as their specifics leave no doubt that that this year’s WWDC is focused on establishing its handset platform as a true mobile computing platform, on par with its Mac business. However, this comes at a time where developers need a clear picture where these two platforms (Golden Gates?) are heading to. It is time for Apple CEO Steve Jobs is to take the stage at WWDC and reveal road-maps for the iPhone OS and Mac OS X Leopard. Apple needs to provide a detailed picture of where it plans to take the iPhone and the Mac. At the same time, Apple needs has to provide developers with the next-gen programming tools for the iPhone and its successors.

Another challenge will certainly be the explanation of its platform vision. It will be interesting to see how Steve Jobs will outline explains to both developers and media how Apple sees the two seemingly distinct platforms – desktop/laptop computers and its mobile phone – intertwine and fit into its broader consumer electronics initiative. Time for another reality-distortion field lesson.

Understanding the direction of the self-proclaimed consumer electronics company could be critically important to developers. Consumer technology appears to be in a transition phase bridging the gap between IT and what we traditionally perceived as being easy to use electronics. The industry is approaching an inflexion point at which all different technologies and solutions should fall into place, enabling the creation of an interconnected device environment. Apple seems to be uniquely positioned and is leading this trend revolution in many areas, especially when we look at digital content delivery and shiny gadgets.

To us, it’s blatantly obvious that Apple wants to bridge worlds of desktop and mobile worlds and it needs developers to follow. The company plans to do this using powerful combination of multi-touch user interface in all of its products in the future, combined with the unified OS capable of being deployed across completely different product categories. It makes sense for Apple to put such strategy at work since the company has to protect and utilize its unique vertical integration of hardware, the operating system and applications. If this strategy works out, Apple could be building a powerful weapon against virtually any consumer electronics company.

We are sure that the Sonys and Nokias will be watching WWDC 2008 very closely.