Like any self-respecting Mac nerd, I have been thinking a lot about Apple is set to announce at tomorrow's WWDC keynote. And as I have done in the past, I am going to make some predictions for tomorrow. You should start by reading John Gruber's take -- I think everything in there is entirely accurate, so I'm just going to build on that.
I think an update iPhone is going take up the lions share of the time during tomorrow's keynote. I think that the general predictions are true: much faster CPU & GPU, 256Mb of RAM, up to 32Gb of flash, and a much improved camera. I'm skeptical of the front-facing camera and support for video chat -- while I think it might be technically feasible, I think that AT&T doesn't want such an iPhone anywhere near it's network.
I think there are going to be a lot of kick-ass demos that show the power of the new iPhone hardware. I think we'll see some in-house apps from Apple, as well as a parade of 3rd party developers. Apple is going to tout the strength of their hardware, software (with the iPhone 3.0 release), application store, and developer program.
I think that the final details of the iPhone 3.0 OS will be announced, and if it isn't available for download tomorrow, it should be just a matter of weeks.
Finally, I think that the rumors of a cheaper iPhone are true. However, I don't see why Apple won't just take the current iPhone 3G, stick 4GB of flash in it, and sell it for the princely sum of $0, with 2 year contract. That would give Apple the following price-points (all with 2-year commit):
- $0 - iPhone 3G with 4GB of storage
- $99 - iPhone 3G with 8GB of storage
- $199 - iPhone 3G+ (or 3GS, or whatever) with 16GB of storage
- $299 - iPhone 3G+ with 32GB of storage
I think that Apple's economy of scale with the iPhone 3G manufacturing are such that they could easily offer a model for free with contract. And maybe instead of trying to produce less featureful phones in order to attack the lower-end of the market, Apple will instead preserve as much functionality as possible, and try to bring the low-end up market?
To put it another way, 5 years from now, why on earth would anybody buy a phone that could only make calls and send SMS? I think those types of phones are going away, and all that will be left will be the smartphone (which we'll just call a phone). So, I think that Apple will get aggressive on the entry price of the iPhone, knowing that they'll make revenue on all of the accessories, apps bought on the app store, and on the subsidy from the carrier. This is the kind of thing that would be easy for Apple to do (unveil a "free" iPhone) that would have everybody talking for weeks.
Plus, it would really dick over Palm.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard:
I expect that Apple will announce when the next version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, will be available (my guess: September). I think that Apple will price it at $129, but they'll make it available bundled with iLife and iWork right away (an updated Mac Box Set), which could lessen the upgrade pain somewhat (if you don't already own the latest iLife and iWork).
But I think that the biggest thing about Snow Leopard will be the demos. I expect some really kick-ass demos of things like OpenCL and GrandCentral. Since the audience will be made up almost entirely of developers, Apple will have an opportunity to get highly technical in the keynote. Unfortunately, my guess is that they're mostly going to talk about the iPhone, so a lot of the Snow Leopard content could get pushed into the Mac OS X State of the Union talk, which unfortunately isn't made available to the public.
Apple doesn't usually do much with Mac hardware at WWDC, but it seems like with the advent of last week's bump to the white MacBook, they could make some minor hardware bumps at WWDC. While I'd really like to see a cheaper Mac Pro (using a desktop-class Core i7 processor instead of the server-class one that the Mac Pro currently uses), there is no way this is going to happen.
While it's possible that Apple will rename the $1300 MacBook as a "MacBook Pro", I'm skeptical. While it seems like something must be going on -- just making minor changes to the MacBooks would merit a press release, not stage time at WWDC, I don't see how they could stick the "Pro" moniker on a machine that lacks Firewire, ExpressCard and dedicated Nvidia graphics.
A list of things that won't be appearing:
While seeing any of things tomorrow certainly would be nice, I don't think any are likely to happen.
- Steve Jobs
- Any updates to Apple TV
- Any updates to Mobile Me
- Any sort of Apple tablet or large-screen iPod Touch
- A sub-$2,000 Mac Pro (dangit)
- Any sort of new iPod