WWDC Keynote: Oh Boy, Just What I Always Wanted
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After Jobs ran through seven other features that will be part of Leopard, he talked about pricing. I know it is silly, but this was my favorite part of the keynote. It was a fun slap at Windows, delivered as only Jobs could.
He said that Apple intends to ship Leopard in October and that the price for the Basic version will be $129.
The crowd got agitated. Did he say Basic version? What's this all about? What are they thinking about doing to...
...and then Jobs smiled and said the Premium version would cost $129. The developers started to laugh and applaud, drowning him out as he displayed the price of the Business version for $129 and the Enterprise version for $129. He paused as the audience responded to this slam of the Vista delivery options and concluded that the Ultimate version would also be available for $129.
Not leaving anything to chance, he clarified that there will only be one version of Leopard--and it will cost $129.
Safari on Windows
When the rumors started to surface that Apple was going to release a version of Safari for Windows, I just shook my head. It didn't make any sense. I understand iTunes. Apple sells music and iPods. iTunes is the secret sauce that makes all of that work. But Safari? Where's the payoff?
Safari may be the dominant browser on the Mac, but even with Steve Jobs' estimate of Safari's 5% market share, it is a marginal browser. He reported that Internet Explorer has 78% and Firefox has 15%. If Safari and Firefox can eat into Internet Explorer's share, then we are likely to see more websites that work well on a Mac in various Web Kit views and on the iPhone.
The only way to expand Safari's share as a Mac-only application is to sell more Macs and iPhones. Even if sales exceed projections, Safari's share can only grow marginally. Apple's advantage has been that it makes both the hardware and the software. It is thinking well outside of its own box when it targets software that will run on Windows. Will we see iLife or iWork ever working on a Windows box?
So Safari on Windows is a great way to increase market share and increase the likelihood that sites will be tested for your browser. John Gruber writes that Apple makes money from the integrated Google search bar in Safari and that adding new Safari users will increase revenues.
So good user experience, increased revenues, and, oh, one more thing...
Jobs finished by announcing that Safari is essentially the iPhone SDK. He basically says to the audience, you want to develop for the iPhone? Go ahead and develop. Write your best web-based applications, and if they run on your desktop in Safari, they will run on the iPhone, because it's the same Safari in both places.
The audience was pissed.
They wanted tools. They wanted APIs. They wanted access to the core functionality of the phone. Heck, they wanted the phone itself.
The audience reaction was entirely Steve Jobs' fault. He worked them up into a frenzy. He kept saying that the iPhone would be available in 18 days. He said it so many times that we expected him to say "but we'll sell you an advance copy today."
Nope. No phone.
OK, no phone but throw me a bone. Tell me you've built an emulator into Xcode and opened up the insides for me to play with.
Nope. No APIs.
I think that Jobs was clear at his MacWorld keynote that this was, at least initially, going to be the only way for third parties to get apps on the phone. He could have sold it better here. He could have pointed to folks at Google who believe that this is the way to deliver apps.
We saw a demo that showed that even using a browser-based application, you can make calls on the phone and send email. You do have access to what makes the phone a phone. But what you can do is also sandboxed to protect the user experience. The first few months of iPhone sales will set the tone for the product. Apple can't afford to have rogue apps on the device that color the user experience.
So even though I completely understand why the browser is the answer for third-party apps on the phone, there are much better ways to deliver that message. The half-full kind of audience was transformed immediately into a half-empty kind. The room was very quiet during that portion of the keynote.
OK, Mac sales are up and the iPhone is about to be released. Vista is out and Leopard is on the way--a lot of developers who need to retool for Vista are considering switching to, or at least dipping their toes in, the Apple waters. There are many sessions on the agenda at WWDC specifically targeting this audience.
The keynote has to satisfy the longtime Mac developer and attract those thinking of switching. Those of us who have been on the Mac platform for a long time forget how good we have it. We look at all these features coming in Leopard and we want more. Step back and look at things in the context of other operating systems--we have more.
Think back to the PC guy at the beginning of the keynote proudly holding up his brown Zune for all to see. I'm happier hanging with the guys delivering the iPod, the iPhone, and Leopard.
Daniel H. Steinberg is the editor for the new series of Mac Developer titles for the Pragmatic Programmers. He writes feature articles for Apple's ADC web site and is a regular contributor to Mac Devcenter. He has presented at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, MacWorld, MacHack and other Mac developer conferences.
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