Apple sent out a press release yesterday detailing the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, and its most obvious omission was Steve Jobs–the CEO’s still taking medical leave. But that’s got people wondering whether a new iPhone will appear at the show either.
“Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address on Monday, June 8 at 10:00 a.m. A team of Apple executives, led by Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the keynote. WWDC will offer in-depth sessions on both iPhone™ OS 3.0, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, and Mac OS® X Snow Leopard™, an even more powerful and refined version of the world’s best desktop operating system and the foundation for future Mac® innovation.”
–That’s all the company has to say about Jobs’s absence from his traditional role as keynote presenter, before quickly covering the general specs of the conference’s content. Of course Jobs has been on medical leave for months, but predicted a return to duty in June–which had some people wondering if he’d show up at WWDC. Clearly Jobs is still taking medical leave, and doesn’t want to disrupt it with the preparations necessary for speaking at WWDC, so the presenter role falls to Schiller: a perfectly capable spokesman, though he doesn’t quite have that Jobsian crowd-pleasing charisma.
Perhaps this is why some thinkers are now suggesting that the hotly-tipped iPhone 2009 version won’t make a showing at the WWDC either. Frequent Apple affairs commenter Gene Munster, a Piper-Jaffrey analyst, leads the speculation by suggesting that Jobs will return at the end of June, and that a surprise media event will be used to launch a “family” of new iPhones in late June or early July instead. WWDC will be used mainly as a vehicle for demonstrating Apple’s new OS, Snow Leopard, according to Munster.
And that does make a small amount of sense, given the attention that Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7’s been earning itself in the media–and Apple emphasizes Snow Leopard in the press release too.
But to show the new iPhone firmware, version 3.0, without demonstrating the new hardware seems bizarre. While the firmware will indeed boost the capabilities of existing iPhones, it’s clearly mainly targeted at working with the next-gen smartphone. Would Apple cripple the presentation tech demonstration by showing just a fraction of the new capabilities–and not the coolest ones? It seems unlikely. And with hundreds of top iPhone developers all gathered together, surely the company wouldn’t deliberately stymie their discussions about new iPhone capabilities, keeping the best details under wraps for a few weeks while maintaining the company’s traditional tight security about the new hardware?