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Monday, June 09, 2008

Days of WWDC 2008, End of Day One

So post keynote I'm not allowed to blog about any specific technology I learn at sessions. Which is fine, because the rest of day one was mostly review material of already known facts to those who have played with XCode. While the population density of the conference didn't change much after The Jobness left the building, the rockstar lining was definitely pulled away.

So to recap a bit:

iPhone App Store
According to the icon on my iPhone, it is two words - so sorry if I've been misspelling it. So the assumption is that this will launch July 11th with the iPhone 3G. I'll know more later but ironically won't be able to share, but let's call it a safe assumption.

Developing for the iPhone has a pretty low bar of entry and a wildly popular consumer base. Not to mention some pretty classy hardware to boot. Xcode has never looked better and Apple has done a lot to make not just the development process mature, but the deployment developer friendly to boot.

Now let's consider this: this WWDC was less of a product launch and more of a market launch. Yes, yes, you'll have your lovely new 3G phone and all, but much of the keynote, in fact the entire keynote was bookended with this message: the iPhone is ready for business. Enterprise business. This means the iPhone isn't just a pretty face, but gives developers a wide range of customers to appeal towards.

Well, you still need a Mac to get started. And that sure as hell isn't going to change anytime soon. Plus, if you wanted to focus on specific products (like that Skype thing or that FireFox thing), Apple will simply tell you to go take a hike. That's their gated community, and they hold the keys.

But wait, there's more
There were some unspoken heroes at the keynote. I'm dying to know more about this messaging protocol they're putting out and what it will mean for interapp (and possibly interdevice) communication. This is a subtle thing that is hard to put any spin on, so I can get the soft sell and all - but if my app and my manager's app can do little secret deals while I'm playing Super Monkey Ball?

mobileme platform

It's technically quite impressive. I can't say I'm not tempted, way more than I have been by a .Mac account for sure. I want to know a lot more about the APIs (if there will be any) and the like before getting too excited though. I won't be leaving the google world of information if I can't hook into it.

Name is kinda silly, to be honest. $99/year still feels a bit expensive for services which others offer for free.

$199 iPhone 3G

Cheaper. Faster. Slimmer. GPS. Plus a hoard of OS updates which you couldn't even begin to cover in the keynote.

It's a better phone than the first gen iPhone, for sure, but again I'm not feeling any real remorse here. The lower price is somewhat bittersweet when you factor the two year contract to boot.

The real summary here can be best put alongside the debate we had at the Irish pub later in the day. Should RIM be afraid? I'd say so. I've never seen Apple focus their attention so squarely on such a specific spot. This is not like saying "we're going to sell music" (like the iPod launch), this like saying "we're going to sell music to audiophiles". One year after the launch of the iPhone, Apple is saying "we're selling this to large companies now. Get ready." Nobody spends the bandwidth of Jobsian stage appearance on something like that without a truckload of intent.

I'd like to be more psyched about the small developer's role in the App Store. The conference is a huge show of hands that a lot of people are interested in producing apps for the device. The weirdness is the pricing. So many large companies can afford to give away apps for free, and with the large gaming companies focusing on the $10 mark - I'd say $20 will be the high end for App Store prices. Those traditionally are indie price points - so what will indie price points on the iPhone be?

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