By the time I finish writing this the WWDC 2014 lotto will be all but over and developers, designers, and interested parties the world over will find out if they have the opportunity to pay somewhere between one and two thousand dollars for a ticket. That's a marked difference from last year when pre-announced tickets sold out in seconds and years previous when no one knew when tickets would go on sale. You'd think the idea of leaving a ticket up to chance would be stressful, but not having to set bots and alarms and hope for the best has been well received. It's been seen as more egalitarian and, importantly, more human. It's a huge difference in how Apple handles the engineering and space constraints of WWDC, and it's not the only difference this year.
Back in October of 2012 I wrote a piece called Tim Cook's Apple where I likened his grid-like reorganization of Apple management to Steve Jobs' famous grid-like reorganization of Apple's product line.
Tim Cook is now taking Apple from an overlapping group of people, some responsible for iOS and some OS X, some responsible for hardware design and some software, some responsible for some services but not others, and clearly defining roles and responsibilities that remove internal roadblocks and hedge against the fiefdoms that plague other, large, second generation leadership teams. Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Craig Federighi, Eddy Cue will each set up teams to support their new roles, and industrial and interface design, chips and antennas, iOS and OS X, and data centers and ecommerce, and more, will all still get individual attention, but they'll benefit from better defined, more collective leadership. [...] Now we get to see how well this simplified, clarified team can execute.
In June of 2013 I wrote a follow up called Tim Cook's WWDC where I called attention to the iOS 7 redesign, the battery shaming and MacBook Airs tremendous battery life, and the Mac Pro previewed some six-months prior to launch.
The one thing that's clear, though: Tim Cook's willingness to show off a product that, while perfect for the venue was still still months from market, to openly mock the stitched leather and green felt of previous versions, to change naming schemes and entire interfaces, to let his people -- Jony Ive and Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller run the ball as a team rather than a set of individuals -- made manifest Cook's decisions from back in October.
How all of it ultimately pans out this year and in year's to come doesn't matter right now. All that matters is that Tim Cook did it, and let his team do it.
New eras work well when they neither slavishly follow the past nor senselessly change the future. They work well when they embrace the best of what was and fortify it with the best of what is and could be.
That's how WWDC 2014 looks at first glance. Design is at the top of the Sessions page. Previously relegated to a couple sessions, labs, and a meet-up among a week chocked full of code. This year there seems to be more attention and resources devoted to design than ever before.
Women aren't only well represented in the graphics but there's a specific get-together scheduled for women in technology, and for apps for kids, and apps for China.
Even Apple's WWDC 2014 verse is inspired:
Over the past six years, a massive cultural shift has occurred. It's changed how we interact with each other. Learn new things. Entertain ourselves. Do our work. And live our daily lives. All because of developers and the apps they create.
Five days, one thousand Apple engineers and five thousand developers will gather together. And life will be different as a result.
Write the code. Change the world.
It continues Tim Cook's and Apple's focus on core values.
And, the lotto.
Everyone has a chance to get a ticket, even if everyone can't get a ticket. Last year Apple, their evangelists, and the production crews moved heaven and earth and pixels and bits to get the session videos posted online, for everyone, incredibly quickly. That's going to happen this year as well. What's more, State of the Union and the Apple Design Awards will be live streamed for all registered developers.
If you need a lab, if you need an Apple engineer or designer to help you fix a specific problem, you'll still need a ticket. But if you just want to learn about what's new and hang out with other members of the community, you can show up in San Francisco and get almost everything you need, ticket or no ticket. If you just want to learn about the new frameworks and features, you can stay home and do it all online.
But WWDC 2014 in and of itself is bristling with new ideas this year. It, like Apple, is keeping the best of its traditions but also pushing forward towards a better future. And that's just as exciting.