RealTime IT News

Apple Details iPhone-Mac Developer Event

Apple will debut a new iPhone at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco next month.

Or not.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is officially mum on the topic but tech rumor and gossip sites abound with speculation that Steve Jobs & Company will debut a new 3G (higher speed) version of the iPhone at the event.

What is known is the sold out WWDC, which runs from June 9 to 13, will include, for the first time, a separate track for the iPhone along with one for the Mac and IT-related topics.

Even without a new iPhone, there's plenty to cover. Apple released a beta of its first Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone in March, and the finished version is slated for completion in the next few months if Apple meets its own timetable.

Apple's iPhone software distribution plan lets developers publish and sell (or offer for free) applications via an iTunes-like store, with Apple taking a piece of any sales for hosting and distribution.

Apple also introduced a raft of new tools that let the iPhone communicate better with corporate systems such as Microsoft's Exchange server.

Although it might simply be last minute planning, there are some 13 sessions on the schedule grid currently marked "Session to be Announced," which could also indicate new iPhone-related topics the famously secretive company doesn't want to tip in advance.

WWDC kicks off with a keynote by Jobs on Monday morning June 9. Any major announcements will almost certainly happen then. Traditionally, Apple only admits a limited number of press to the keynote with the rest of the week set aside for developers who've paid to attend.

Pushing for IT acceptance

Among the sessions are several designed specifically for enterprise or corporate developers. Session headings include such titles as "Integrating iPhone with IT," "Enterprise iPhone Management with Configuration Profiles," and "Deploying Macs in a Highly Secure Environment."

The Macintosh has had something of a resurgence the past few years. In its most recent quarterly report last month, Apple said Mac sales were up 51 percent year-over-year and running about 3.5 times the growth rate of PC sales. Desktop Macs accounted for 37 percent of sales and laptops accounted for 61 percent.

After years of floundering attempts at trying to make headway in the corporate market, the effort was largely abandoned in the late '90s when Steve Jobs returned as CEO. Now the iPhone is such a hot seller it might spark renewed interest for the Mac as well.

But the growth rate is also indicative of how far the Mac had fallen. It's certainly ironic, if not telling that 24 years after the introduction of the first Mac, WWDC includes a session titled "Integrating Your Organization's First Macs" described in part:

"What strategies do you need to support your boss or a highly placed executive who requests that Macs be considered first-class citizens in your IT environment? Learn how to create a migration plan .."

Analyst Tim Bajarin said Apple isn't about to make a big time investment on the scale of HP and IBM and others going after corporate accounts. "Look at how much HP just paid for EDS. Apple doesn't have the interest or stomach to go after large IT accounts," Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com.

But Bajarin also said Apple wants to capitalize on several smart moves that is helping to get more Macs in corporations through the back door. He points to Apple's decision to switch to Intel x86 processors and support Windows applications with its own Bootcamp software as well as third party offerings from Parallels and VMware, for making the Mac less of a gamble for corporate users.

"Apple's able to gain more traction with Macs that now have a PC mode and the slow corporate adoption of Vista is also helping," said Bajarin.