by Tom Kaneshige

iPhone Intrigue: Our Predictions for Apple WWDC Show

Jun 02, 20093 mins
Enterprise Applications

The latest iPhone and Snow Leopard headline the great expectations for the sold-out show.

Apple’s sold-out World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco kicks off next week at the Moscone Center—and Apple aficionados are already licking their chops. The two highly anticipated main courses: a new iPhone and the super-hyped Snow Leopard OS. 

But how will we know if Apple delivers the goods or drops duds?

Hopefully, a new iPhone will fix its predecessors’ shortcomings and bring video, a high resolution camera and faster processing to the storied device. I’m also betting the new iPhone will be a replacement for older iPhones rather than the start of a family of iPhone products. (Okay, not quite going out on a limb here.)

The big question around the new iPhone: Will the updated hardware support background processing, whereby non-running apps can receive updates? So far, of course, they can’t. “There’s still a lot of criticism on that front,” says Gartner analyst Van Baker. “There’s rumors afoot that they might put that in.”

Practically everyone wants it. Baker says companies would like to see background processing because this would make the iPhone platform more manageable for IT. And Web service providers like WhippleHill, which serves up information for private schools over the Web and is rolling out an iPhone app, are champing at the bit, too.

“Apps that receive content pushed from a web server is going to change considerably the kinds of things we’re able to do with the device,” says Travis Warren, president and founder of WhippleHill.

The challenge: background processing drains the battery. “They’ll have to do something on probably the hardware to get better control of the battery life,” Baker says. “If we see it, I think it’s going to be constrained to the hardware.”

There’s more of that famous Apple secrecy about the much-hyped Snow Leopard. Apple recently clamped down on rogue screen shots of Snow Leopard floating on the Web. Screen shots, though, don’t reveal functionality. Apple better deliver some breakthrough capabilities, which will likely be in the realm of multicore support.

So what shouldn’t you expect? Even though the Apple fan base has been calling for a dumbed-down, affordable portable Mac product, akin to a Netbook, Apple blasted the emerging laptop category in an earnings call last month. It would be a confounding marketing message if Apple came out with one.

Also, it’s unlikely that Apple will come out with its mysterious 10-inch touchscreen product. Many industry watchers figure it’s still a few months away, if not into 2010, although this hasn’t stopped me from speculating on what such a gadget might look like.

Lastly, the new iPhone probably won’t have that new processor rumored to be in the works at Cupertino. Apple bought chip design company PA Semi a year ago and has been filling its engineering ranks with microprocessor specialists, “but I don’t think we’ll see the fruits of that effort for a while,” Baker says.

Are you excited about Apple’s WWDC? Couldn’t care less? Send me an email at Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.