A Decade’s Worth of WWDC Keynotes

...and why they're the most misunderstood Apple events of all

WWDC 2014Once a year, Apple kicks off its World Wide Developer Conference with a keynote presentation, such as the one coming up on Monday, which I’ll be covering for Technologizer. Many people seem to think they’re famous for involving Apple dazzling consumers with an array of new products, to the rapturous approval of everybody involved.

Which is weird, because that’s not the point at all.

Sure, consumers are watching, and Apple hopes that they’re dazzled. But WWDC keynotes are usually the least gadget-centric events which Apple holds, and even though people who covet new Apple products pay close attention, they’re not the primary audience.

Here’s the truth about WWDC keynotes:

  • The fact that they’re part of a conference devoted to informing developers about Apple’s platforms means that the emphasis will be on software–particularly operating systems–and the odds of a radically new hardware product being announced are just about nil;
  • Since epoch-shifting hardware is out of the picture, any devices which do get announced are, by definition, only incrementally superior to their predecessors;
  • No matter how newsy the keynote is, some people–especially ones who were hoping for something extremely specific which didn’t get announced–will deem it a snoozefest;
  • There’s a very good chance that Apple’s stock will fall in the wake of the keynote, presumably indicating that Wall Steeet was not instantly impressed.

Now, I’m a WWDC keynote fan myself–there’s nothing more important to hardware than the software which it runs, so the focus on operating systems and apps makes these events more interesting to me, not less so. But as we gird ourselves for Monday, it might help to calibrate expectations if we review the last ten years of WWDC keynotes.

So without any further ado…


WWDC 2005Keynote date: June 28; full video here

Major news: OS X 10.4 Tiger, iTunes 4.9, new Cinema Displays

Snap judgment:A totally boring keynote. A few interesting items in Tiger — but otherwise, Apple continues to disappoint in 2004.”–Macrumors forum member Numediaman

Impact on Apple stock price: Down .03 to $16.25


WWDC 2005Keynote date: June 6; full video here

Major news: An unusual WWDC which focused–after the opening stats and updates–on one gigantic piece of news, the Mac’s move from PowerPC processors to Intel ones

Snap judgment: “We believe the move is risky for Apple. By switching to a more mass market processor, Apple likely risks diluting its value proposition as it has less control over the product road map.”–Prudential Equity Group analyst Steven Fortuna

Impact on Apple stock price: Down .84 percent to $37.95


WWDC 2006Keynote date: August 7; full video here

Major news: Introduction of the Mac Pro desktop; preview of OS X 10.5 Leopard

Snap judgment:The sneak preview of Leopard was underwhelming. For what seemed an interminable time, Jobs and Co. showed off one yawn after another. There’s no way I can get excited about virtual desktops or a new service that turns highlighted text into a “to do” item. Oooo.”–Leander Kahney, Wired

Impact on Apple stock price: Down 3.6 percent to $64.78


WWDC 2007Keynote date: June 11; full video here

Major news: Web “apps” for the iPhone (which didn’t yet offer true third-party apps); further preview of Leopard, which was being delayed; Safari browser for Windows

Snap judgment:Unless you’re particularly into games or operating system software, today’s WWDC announcements were probably a bit of a snooze-fest. I don’t know about you, but I’m a hardware guy. Hardware is tangible, tactile and there’s an emotional component to hardware that I don’t get from software – but that’s me.”–Jason D. O’Grady, ZDNet

Impact on Apple stock price: Up .16 percent to $120.38


WWDC 2008Keynote date: June 9; full video here

Major news: iPhone 3G; OS 10.6 Snow Leopard; MobileMe service; more details on the iPhone OS SDK and App Store, which had been announced at an event in March

Snap judgment:If you expected startling news to come out of Monday’s keynote for Apple’s World-Wide Developers Conference (WWDC)–headlined, of course, by Steve Jobs–you went away unstartled and disappointed.”–Harry McCracken (hey, that’s me!), PC World

Impact on Apple stock price: Up 2.2 percent to $185.64


WWDC 2009Keynote date: June 8; full video here

Major news: iPhone 3GS; demos of iPhone OS 3.0 and Snow Leopard, which had already been shown; new 13″ MacBook Pro

Snap judgment:Wow, there’s two hours of my life that I won’t get back anytime soon. Today’s epic bore of a keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference signals the problem that Steve Jobs has created as the designated showman/face of Apple. Jobs’ rampant control issues and megalomania are so acute that everyone else who works for him sounds like they’ve never had to address the family dinner table, much less the assembled throng of thousands of Apple developers and the untold millions of fanboys refreshing liveblogs around the world.”–David Lidsky (commenting on a keynote hosted by Phil Schiller during Steve Jobs’s medical leave), Fast Company

Impact on Apple stock price: Down .79 percent to $142.72


WWDC 2010Keynote date: June 7; full video here

Major news: iPhone 4 (the model whose thunder Gizmodo had stolen in April) ; iPhone OS being renamed iOS; FaceTime; iMovie for iOS

Snap judgment:But despite all of [Steve Jobs’] showmanship and a very impressive new product, the keynote wasn’t quite the game changer that I expected. I don’t mean to say I found the iPhone 4 to be disappointing — it will be incredibly successful, and many of my friends are champing at the bit to get one. But I expected to walk out of San Francisco’s Moscone Center yesterday longing for the next iPhone despite my current allegiance to Android. That didn’t happen.”–Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch, giving the closest thing I could find to a negative spin on a keynote that was unusually well received

Impact on Apple stock price: Down .64 percent to $249.33


WWDC 2011Keynote date: June 6; full video here

Major news: iOS 5; OS X 10.7 Lion; iCloud

Snap judgment:Probably spoiled by Apple’s way of bringing new and innovative ideas to the table each year, I was hoping for something revolutionary, something that would rock my iOS-loving, iPhone-hugging world. Sadly all I saw were minor changes, most of which were already available one way or another.”–Johnny, GSMArena

Impact on Apple stock price: Down 1.8 percent to $332.04


WWDC 2012Keynote date: June 11; full video here

Major news: iOS 6; OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion; 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display; MacBook Airs with new processors

Snap judgment: “Maybe Steve Jobs set the innovation bar too high, but Apple users have become accustomed to stunning new product announcements and introductions. That didn’t happen at WWDC12. Instead, business users were treated to a nicely redesigned MacBook Pro and promises of great new products (Mountain Lion and iOS 6) to come.”–Erik Eckel, TechRepublic

Impact on Apple stock price: Up .87 percent to $576.16


WWDC 2013Keynote date: June 10; full video here

Major news: iOS 7; iOS 10.9 Mavericks; preview of all-new Mac Pro; updated MacBook Airs; iTunes Radio

Snap judgment: “To be direct, Apple had a shot at regaining its ‘mojo’ just by announcing the next amazing new product to come down the road today. Hopes of an iWatch, iTV, and a low-priced iPhone for the emerging markets, were dashed in one unimpressive display of face lifting, rather than innovation.”–Regarded Solutions, Seeking Alpha

Impact on Apple stock price: Down .29 percent to $437.60

With all of the above in mind, here are my official WWDC 2014 predictions:

  • Apple is going to focus on software;
  • Some people will complain about the fact that Apple focused on hardware, and criticize it for not unveiling something like an iWatch;
  • Whatever Apple does announce won’t result in a massive run-up on its stock.

And those are the only predictions I’m making. See you on Monday: I’m going to live-tweet the event as it happens, and then follow up here with further thoughts after it’s over and all is known.


The Land Beyond TIME

Welcome to Technologizer—version 3.0.
Daily Show

Jon Stewart furrows his brow at a TIME cover story which I wrote with my colleague Lev Grossman

Twenty-five months ago, I became an editor at large at TIME.  I’m awfully glad I did.

The gig gave me the opportunity to work with smart people and write everything from splashy print and online features to product reviews to pieceslots of them–which I did mostly because I found something fascinating and thought other folks would, too.

My work also let me interview people like Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Phil Schiller, and Jack Dorsey and took me to some memorable places such as the offices of Minecraft’s creators in Stockholm and the hallowed Time & Life Building in New York–and, of course, to the never-ending supply of Bay Area tech startups, many of which are within walking distance of TIME’s San Francisco bureau.

It was an honor to contribute to something which has meant as much to me for as long as TIME has, and I’ll cherish the memories forever. But I recently decided it was time to change things up. Friday was my last day at Time Inc.

And here I am again at Technologizer, which I started in 2008. During my time at TIME, it was part of TIME.com. Now it–and I–are independent again.

Old Technologizer

Technologizer as it appeared way, way back in 2009

This version of Technologizer will be a bit different from both the TIME.com incarnation and the first stand-alone one. I plan to focus even more on slow-cooked insight and spend less time frantically cranking out brief stories on the news of the moment. But over on the right-hand side you’ll find TechReads, where I’ll share worthwhile stuff as I read it. Consider it my own dinky version of Techmeme.

Not that I planned it this way, but I’m rebooting this site on the cusp of what should be an eventful month for technology products. Apple’s WWDC keynote is this Monday, Samsung is holding a Galaxy Tab launch in New York on June 12, and Google’s IO conference on June 25-26. I’ll be at all of ’em, and am looking forward to writing about them here.

Up at the top of each page, you’ll find icons which will whisk you to some of the other outposts of the vast Technologizer media empire: our Facebook page; my own accounts on TwitterGoogle+ and Instagram; a Flipboard magazine where I’ll share everything I publish here; and our full-text RSS feed.

One other thing about this new version of Technologizer: I don’t expect that it’ll be my full-time occupation indefinitely. Stay tuned for more news, and thanks for hanging out with me.