Not nuking the future

What to expect -- and more importantly what not to expect -- from Apple's WWDC 2012 Keynote

Apple doesn't nuke the future. They don't announce so many new products and services it scorches the market and blots out the shelves. They don't copy and create so many new features and SKUs each year that no one can keep up, and many are left unadopted or simply abandoned.

They have confidence enough to focus, to place a very small amount of huge bets on consumer demand. Rather than dropping every atom and bit imaginable, they carefully line up single shots.

The result is devices that aren't obsoleted almost as fast as they come out, software that isn't frozen in the past, and design language that isn't impenetrable or unintelligible in the least.

Instead, in one of the hottest markets on earth, Apple releases one product a year (if that), updates all current devices to the latest software day and date, and makes sure that, if you can use one of their mobile device, you can use them all -- whether you're 3 years old or 103.

Even though Apple has a bank account that could fund a judgement day's worth of product launches, they deliberately choose not to.

Sure, in their labs they may explore a range of product ideas, and even prototype and test a subset of them extensively. But they say "no" to most of them, and "yes" to only a few, and only when they have a clear, disruptive plan to bring one to market. Only when it's products that complement their existing lines, that can make an impact in the space, and that can sell in the hundreds of millions.

This is Apple's way of doing things. There are other hugely successful companies that do things differently. But this way is Apple's.

And that tells us a lot about what to expect -- and not to expect -- at the WWDC 2012 keynote on Monday.

Despite rumors that we'll see everything from a television to a television operating system, from new designs to new app platforms, from new Macs to new densities of Mac displays, more likely than not this WWDC keynote will be similar to last year's. And the year before's. And the year before that's.

Tim Cook will come out and give an overview of Apple's business and platforms. Phil Schiller and/or Craig Federighi will reveal more about OS X Mountain Lion, a final-ish beta, and Apple's Mac plans for 2012. Scott Forstall will show off iOS 6, announce a first beta, and demo a few tentpoles out of the many his team has been working on for the last 12 months. And someone, perhaps Schiller again, will take Steve Jobs' place and introduce new features for iCloud.

We'll hear big numbers -- hundreds of new features, thousands of new API, hundreds of thousands of apps, hundreds of millions of apps and devices, and billions of dollars paid to developers for billions of app downloads. But the presentation will be practiced, paced, and precise. As always.

If Mac updates feature big enough design changes to make for great demos and, as such, warrant precious time on stage, we'll see them. Otherwise they'll be dumped in a press release as they have been in the past.

If an extension of iOS to a new device is small enough, in terms of scope, to fit into the keynote, we'll see it. Otherwise it'll be saved for a special event all its own, the way the original iPad was.

But when you set your expectations for the Apple keynote, remember:

Apple doesn't nuke the future.

They methodically adjust their sights. They carefully line up a single shot.

And then they take it.

WWDC preview

  • The 4 inch iPhone
  • How Apple could provide direct document access in iOS 6
  • iOS 6 and the opposite of widgets
  • Is it time for Apple to revamp the Home screen?
  • The challenge of bringing Siri to the iPad
  • iOS 6 and privacy: How Apple should draw inspiration from Android for better app