This year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicked off with a keynote by Steve Jobs. With his team of execs, he revealed three major products- all software-based. Thousands of new features, services and APIs were announced setting the stage for future products and services across Apple’s compete line of products.
1. Mac OS X Lion- Apple’s next desktop operating system- aka 10.7.
As previously demoed, multi-touch gestures and many details from iOS have been brought over to the desktop. Security and OS refinement are central as well as the initial integration of iCloud for document, photo and data access. Release date is “July.”
2. iOS 5.0- The next mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, iPods & AppleTV.
The early beta build shows that Apple has continued chipping away at the most-requested features list. The most visible and obvious change is the introduction of a better notification system. The OS is now a very capable desktop replacement on the iPad and even more feature-rich on the phone. Other changes are much more subtle refinements. Release date is “fall.”
3. iCloud- The long-awaited Apple cloud services offering.
iCloud replaces the earlier MobileMe service with free Contact, Cal, Docs, Photos, and Music sync for free. The service becomes a wireless digital hub, replacing the requirement for USB to PC functionality with a broadband network connection.
In addition, three of the Apple online stores (Music, Books & Apps) get re-download capability. Furthermore, an option has been introduced to automatically download purchased content on all associated devices “from the Cloud.” This feature is immediately available in beta release form. There was no mention of TV or movies.
Most interesting was the announcement of iTunes Match. This service matches all songs in a user’s iTunes library, including those ripped directly from CD and obtained from file sharing sites, and offers them in the Cloud with high-resolution audio. At $24.99/year, this is the only paid component of iCloud (other than upgraded storage). Release date is “fall.”
iCloud does not include traditional music streaming or even “iTunes in the browser.” Instead, it’s positioned more like iTunes-as-a-service. The vision Apple articulated was that the Cloud exists to make native apps better, not to replace them as Google and Microsoft are pursuing by running software in the web browser. To drive this point home, Apple’s did not even show web interfaces to the iCloud services (although I do expect to see them at some point).
If iCloud’s services do deliver as advertised, expect this robust service layer will likely grow into an expectation of functionality across both the mobile environment and the entire computing space.
A few closing stats:
- Apple has sold 200 million iOS devices
- Apple claims 44 percent of the mobile operating system market. Android is #2 with 28%, RIM is #3 with 19% and Others at 9%
- 15 billion songs have been sold through the iTunes Music Store.
- 14 billion apps have been sold on the App Store
- 130 million eBooks have been purchased from the iBooks Store