Sixteen Random Questions Prompted by Apple’s WWDC Keynote

By  |  Monday, June 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

iPhone 3GsIn the end, predicting what Apple wll announce at a press event isn’t nearly as difficult as some folks make it. If you’ve been listening to scuttlebutt over the past few months, nearly all of the stuf you heard that was basically plausible came true today. Snow Leopard is indeed a minor OS X upgrade focused on under-the-hood improvements. The new iPhone is in fact a faster model with double the memory and a better, video-capable camera, but otherwise not a radical departure. There were new Macs, and their newness indeed consisted mostly of bringing features from the 17-inch MacBook Pro to its small cousins. And Apple finally lowered the price of the current iPhone to $99, an idea that’s been in play in the blogosphere for many months.

Rumors that were either less plausible or supported by fewer convincing details turned out to be groundless, at least for now. There was no tablet, and no iPhone Nano. And, of course, no Steve Jobs.

As for out-of-nowhere surprises…well, you know that an event is short on them when the two biggest ones may have been the introduction (at last) of Macs with SD slots, and the return of FireWire on the 13-inch Mac.

As usual, the event prompted as many new questions as it answered. After the jump, the sixteen that leap to my mind most immediately.

1. Will advanced, sealed batteries take over the world now? Dell Adamo aside, they didn’t when Apple rolled out the Air and the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. But now almost the whole Mac laptop line has long-life batteries that aren’t user-replaceable. Will PC makers fall in line? (My  guess: We’ll see more sealed notebooks, but it’ll be a long time until they’re pervasive.)

2. Is the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s FireWire an admission of a judgement of error on Apple’s part? You don’t often see a company strip a feature from a computer, then bring it back a few months later (in improved form, yet–FireWire 800 instead of 400). But maybe Apple  listened to the mini-firestorm over the original 13-inch MacBook’s lack of FireWire.

3. Will the lack of an ExpressCard slot on the new 15-inch MacBook Pro prompt anyone to become furious? Or does ExpressCard not get the passion that FireWire engenders?

4. Will the Mac price cuts change anyone’s opinion of the basic value of Macs? Apple didn’t introduce a “cheap Mac,” but it did upgrade the specs on most of the current line, and slashed prices by hundreds of dollars. My guess: Even though Mac pricing is not unreasonable compared  to Windows PCs with comparable stuff inside, you won’t see Microsoft declare a truce and stop snarking at Macs and Mac users in Windows ads.

5. How many people will upgrade to Snow Leopard? As rumored all along, there are only a few new features, none of which look essential. It’s admirable that Apple is tweaking the platform, and understandable that it’s only asking Leopard users to pay $29 for an upgrade that won’t change their lives. But is that so cheap that most folks will make the leap without giving it too much thought?

6. What’s next after Snow Leopard? A meatier upgrade, presumably, and probably one with a more strikingly new interface. But what? And when?

7. What’s with the Exchange support in Snow Leopard? I don’t mean to suggest it’s a grand strategic move on Apple’s part. But between it and iWork, Apple is making it possible for a Mac user in a corporate environment to forego Microsoft software, or/ trying to, at least. Is that just a thoughtful touch, or a slap at Microsoft, or preparation for the possibility that Microsoft might discontinue Office for the Mac

8. What’s with the name “Apple 3G S?” For Apple, that’s long and clunky, and it tends to suggest “incremental improvements” rather than “whole new ballgame.” Is it a hint that the next iPhone, whatever it is and whenever it debuts, will be a more significant upgrade?

9. How many people will upgrade from an existing iPhone to the 3G S? It’s a fairly minor upgrade from the 3G, but more speed’s always good, the better camera and video capability are welcome, and 32GB of storage will let you tote a much higher percentage of your media with you. As an iPhone 3G owner myself, the things I like about my current iPhone and dislike about it add up to make the 3G S pretty attractive.

10. What will a $99 starting price do for iPhone market share? It’ll increase it, of course. But by a little or a lot?

11. What does a $99 iPhone do to smartphone pricing in general? It’s not a breakthrough price for a smartphone–various BlackBerries are sometimes available quite cheaply, for instance. But it is a heck of a lot of phone for the dough, and you’ve got to wonder whether a phone like the $199 Palm Pre, introduced 48 hours ago at a price which matched the iPhone’s old price, can preserve their current pricetags.

12. Are the days of the Flip video camera numbered? It’s not going anywhere right now, and the mere existence of decent video in an iPhone won’t kill it under any circumstances. But unless Flip and its competitors figure out ways to keep a few steps ahead of the iPhone 3G S and other video-capable smartphones–not to mention still cameras–you’ve got to wonder whether video is going to end up as a feature, not a product.

13. Are all the features rumored for the iPhone that didn’t show up imaginary, or just not here yet? Such as a more signficantly different case, an OLED screen, and a front-facing camera?

14. Does the lack of Steve Jobs mean anything? This one I can answer: no. His medical leave was always scheduled to end late this month, and there was never a scenario in which he’d return to full-time employement and bound back on stage on day one.

15. Does the lack of acting CEO Tim Cook mean anything? I don’t want to read too much into the tea leaves, but maybe he stayed offstage today so nobody would take his presence there as a sign that he was going to remove the “acting” from his title. Which some folks would have inevitably done even if his appearance carried no such meaning.

16. Has an Apple event ever had so many technical glitches? Minor things go wrong all the time, even during Steve Jobs demos. But two of the iPhone apps onstage–one for teaching kids science, and  one for controlling electric guitars–simply didn’t work. It’s as if the gods who have bedeviled Microsoft for years decided to show they’re equal-opportunity troublemakers.

Got any answers for any of the above questions–or additional questions of your own?


Read more: , , ,

7 Comments For This Post

  1. pfepher Says:

    #17: who would have been a better speaker: Christopher Walken or Chuck Norris:

  2. Glenn Fleishman Says:

    #3: I don’t know a single person who uses an ExpressCard. I use 3G, Wi-Fi, etc., etc., and I have never missed not having one. USB dongles, much more portable, seem to be where all the sexy cool development has gone on in the 3G world. You can get a 3G card with GPS, micro-HD slot, etc., from a couple firms.

  3. choirguy Says:

    Do we know if the 3G will have video capability with the 3.0 OS? We know that jailbroken phones can record video. Everything I read has said, “We don’t know.” Now that 3.0 is announced, does anyone know?

    I checked with AT&T and we’re talking $499 for an upgrade for me with my short time (since last October) with an iPhone 3G. The moving point for me is video…I have a one year old son, and as much as possible, I don’t want to carry a second device with me (Flip), and the iPhone video looked pretty good (Gizmodo had a good sample).

    If the 3G can record video, I have no immediate need for a GS, although a 32GB capacity phone would be nice…but I could easily wait the year until I received the full discount for the next generation iPhone (past the 3GS) with 64GB of RAM (speculation) and whatever other goodies it comes with at that point.

  4. Michael Says:

    So will the iPhone 3GS be much of an upgrade on the Apple IIgs?

    Sorry! 😉

  5. carl Says:

    I don’t see how the now “old” version of the iphone — now $99 — is considered a price reduction. I mean, if a new version w/substantive improvements is announced the old version seems, to me, outdated (even though it still works). Does anyone consider the white Macbook to be on par with the 13-inch unibody?

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    @glenn: You know at least one person who uses an ExpressCard with a Mac: Me. But only to get an embedded SD reader, so if I wouldn’t mourn its loss if I bought a new MacBook Pro with SD standard.


  7. Kristofer Says:

    I’m thinking if the questions were prompted by the keynote, they’re not really random. Ad hoc is the word you’re looking for, not random.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Web Media Daily - Link Edition Monday June 8, 2009 | Reinventing Yourself... Says:

    […] Sixteen Random Questions Prompted by Apple’s WWDC Keynote […]

  2. Can Qik Go Legit on the iPhone? | Technologizer Says:

    […] all:&nbspNews Here’s another question I have as I ruminate on Monday’s WWDC news: Will the fact that the iPhone 3G S has a video camera […]

  3. When Tech Products Go Pro, It’s…Utterly Meaningless! | Technologizer Says:

    […] Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this month, keynote presenter Phil Schiller explained that what had formerly been the 13″ aluminum […]