Not nuking the future

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
  • Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

    Rene Ritchie

    EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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    Reader comments

    Not nuking the future


    Those are not Apple's qualities. They are Steve Jobs'. And not to be too blunt, Tim Cook, the man with his personality surgically removed who believes cash is his savior, is in charge. How can you say any of this with assuredness?

    Tim Cook may be CEO but the "public face" for Apple's products is Phil Schiller. And remember SJ infused his key principles into Apple's culture and DNA. I don't think the senior exec team has forgotten that.

    There should be more posts like this on sites of a similar nature. Everyone (myself included) gets so wrapped up in rumour-mill, that we forget that the above article is Apple's way of doing things.
    Everyone is always disappointed at something after a keynote, and blog posts like this brings our feet back down to earth.
    Great post!

    makes sure if you can use one of their mobile device, you can use them all -- whether you're 3 years old or 103."
    That sums it up right there. They lock the os down so much anyone can use it. Nit everyone wants simple. Yet apple can't understand that.

    Apple understands perfectly -- that's why they've sold hundreds of millions of iOS devices, and why there's no tablet market outside the iPad.
    Geeks are a tiny percentage of the market. Not everyone wants simple, but most people do. Apple makes products for the mainstream. From the Apple II to Mac to iPad their singular goal has been to democratize computing -- to make it accessible to everyone.
    Apple understands perfectly. It's us old school geeks who don't :)

    Get a bag so you can donate it to a cancer charity...I'm 99.999999% sure there won't ever be widgets on iOS, at least not unless there's a full hard reboot of it, which won't happen for a couple of years yet...maybe with the next iPad, but more probably with the one after.

    This article in particular bugs me because you have some guy who doesn't even work at Apple trying to tell us with authority what they will and won't do. How about commenting on rumors and news instead of acting like you can read minds? I expect far better from imore.

    Articles and editorials like these are exactly why I read iMore every day. There are plenty of other sites out there if you want unsubstantiated rumours and gossip.

    I'm using past behavior as an indicator for future behavior, with an angle that our expectations aren't Apple's obligations.
    Observation of pattern is interesting, and because of all the patterns, illuminating.

    Really liking your more editorial approach over the last weeks, Gives the site a strong voice and makes a change from all the recycled stories across the blogs (admittedly my own fault for checking too many of them, several times a day)
    Soluble Apps

    I think it's probably the exact phrasing of "they will" instead of "they probably will". I suppose some folks have a difficult time picking up these undertones =)

    Rene beat me to it. Past = indicative of future.
    Why shouldn't iMore point that out instead of JUST over inflating our expectations before the conference just so we can all sulk after it?