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5/29/2014
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Jeff Bertolucci
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Apple WWDC 2014: 9 Things To Expect

Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference promises to pack big software -- rather than hardware -- announcements. Think OS X, iOS 8, home automation, and more.
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The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) takes place June 2-6 in San Francisco, where 1,000 Apple engineers and 5,000 developers will gather. "And life will be different as a result," says the WWDC site.

It's true that the annual developers event, much like Google I/O in late June, is more than tutorials, handshakes, and hangovers. It's a global stage where Apple can promote all the cool, new things it's working on. There's a long history to WWDC as well. Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010, as well as Apple's Facetime and iMovie apps. At WWDC 2011, both iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion made their public debut. The 2012 event brought iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion, and last year's event showcased iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, as well as the radically redesigned Mac Pro desktop.

Assuming recent Apple gossip is reliable -- and it's pretty much on target these days -- software will once again be the focus this year.

One thing we won't see is the next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to arrive in the late summer or early fall. Apple's flagship product now accounts for more than half the company's revenue and will likely receive a September unveiling, assuming Apple follows last year's script for the iPhone 5S/5C launch.

Otherwise, trends suggest Apple is preparing for a future in which its current business model of selling high-margin consumer hardware begins to wane. Recent signs suggest this might already be happening, at least in some product categories. Although iPhone sales flourished in the second quarter of 2014, iPad revenue fell 13% year over year, Mac growth was marginal at best, and the iPod continued its freefall.

Instead, Apple might use WWDC to showcase the content side of its operations, particularly given Wednesday's announcment that Apple has agreed to buy Beats Electronics. One often-overlooked segment of Apple's portfolio is the iTunes/software/services category, which showed an impressive 11% year-over-year revenue jump in the second quarter of 2014. Video and audio subscription services, as well as app sales and other content plays, might be Apple's next big thing. WWDC 0214 gives the company a good opportunity to entice developers to come along for the ride.

Apple also is reportedly planning to launch a software platform that will turn iOS devices into controllers for networked appliances. The Financial Times reported that Apple plans to introduce its interface for the Internet of Things at WWDC, challenging similar initiatives by Google, Samsung, and other companies.

As for Apple's expected foray into wearable devices -- the mythical iWatch, to be exact -- we're still waiting. But do expect Apple to tout Maps and multitasking in the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 8, and maybe even a health app.

For a look at some of the intriguing announcements Apple might make at the 2014 WWDC, dig into our slideshow. And tell us what you're hoping to hear from Apple at WWDC, using our comments field.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:54:42 PM
Re: more openness?
@Thomas Claburn> "Apple plans to maintain Beats Music for Android and Windows. I hope the company continues to look beyond its own platforms. It will be do better in the long run if it isn't so insular."

Agreed up to a point. The insular nature of their approach has also given them a level of control over their platform that has given them advantages - and disadvantages - that other vendors do not have. You only have to mention the fragmentation of Android to understand how their control over iOS/iPhone platforms has been an advantage in so many ways to them, while simultaneously kicking them in the b@lls when it comes to missing out on the innovation and creative adaptation of others. Or heaven help us, the bad old days of the PC clone market where stuff certainly was not promised to "just work."

I like though that the company may be willing to admit that in some areas it either doesn't know best, or that it's just not a core competency and they're better off partnering with somebody else for a better result. 
jgherbert
IW Pick
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:50:46 PM
Re: more openness?
@Shane> "Apple will need to open up if it wants to make headway in the Internet of Things/home automation space, which relies on common standards and various components working together. Very curious to see what this "home automation platform" looks like."

You are bang on target, I think. Indeed, Apple would be foolish to think they could compete in this space with nothing but Apple-branded devices. I liked the suggestion that Apple would most likely have to create an approval stamp (like the "Designed for iPod" labels) where they get to maintain some conrol of other people's equipment while still grabging their revenue from the licensing process. To do that means they have to publish APIs and standards specifically so that third parties can work with their ecosystem, and based on the way they designed the Lightning cable I would not be shocked if they made every effort to shut out unlicensed components (i.e. stop them working with their controller systems). I hope this is one of the announcements; I'd love to see what could come from an Apple/Third Party hybrid approach.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:39:47 PM
Re: more openness?
@snunyc> "apple is surprisingly late to the party when it comes to streaming music services"

You're not wrong. iTunes Radio is quite decent mind you, but it's not quite the same as some of the other services out there. My assumption is that they resisted all you can eat streaming services in preference to trying to persuade you to buy the music instead of paying to stream it. However, it seems that everybody and their dog is trying to move their customer base to subscription services these days, as it's a good way to get an ongoing recurring revenue stream safe in the knowledge that if the user ever stops paying, they have nothing to show for it. It's like doing lease purchase on a car; you get to drive an awesome care for $300/month but when your contract ends after 2 years you realize you've paid out $7,200 and you have no car. So what do you do? You either sign up for another leaSe or you bite the bullet and buy a car outright. Either way the auto dealer is happy.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 2:37:23 PM
Re: more openness?
@tom: apple is surprisingly late to the party when it comes to streaming music services. having followed Jimmy Iovine's career since my days at Billboard, one thing I can say is the man rarely makes a misstep in where he places his bets. Apple is smart to team up with him and his company, though it speaks to how much the company has changed that it needs to now turn to a music industry icon to help it catch up. What a reversal of fortunes; with iTunes and the iPod, Apple fundamentally changed the music biz forever. Now they're turning to a music biz stalwart to lead them into the streaming music arena. What goes around comes around.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2014 | 4:23:14 PM
Mac growth
These days, where the Windows PC business contracted 9% last year, the year before, and so far this year, 5% Mac growth isn't "marginal", it's significant.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/29/2014 | 2:56:17 PM
no new phone
Is it just me or does Apple have a harder time getting the troops excited about software as opposed to hardware? Perhaps users were spoiled by all those hardware surprises of the Jobs era.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
5/29/2014 | 2:25:22 PM
Re: more openness?
Apple will need to open up if it wants to make headway in the Internet of Things/home automation space, which relies on common standards and various components working together. Very curious to see what this "home automation platform" looks like. 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/29/2014 | 12:42:18 PM
more openness?
Apple plans to maintain Beats Music for Android and Windows. I hope the company continues to look beyond its own platforms. It will be do better in the long run if it isn't so insular.
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