WWDC 2008 flashback: iPhone 3G, MobileMe, Snow Leopard, and the App Store

As we head towards WWDC 2014 we thought it would be fun to look back at Apple World Wide Developer Conferences past, what they introduced, and what impact they made. We're continuing with WWDC 2008 which was not only the first sold-out show, but included the introduction of the iPhone 3G, OS X Snow Leopard, Mobile Me... and a little something called the App Store.

WWDC 2008 kicked off June 9 at 10am PDT with a Steve Jobs keynote. Apple had held the first iPhone SDK event that past spring and a lot of what was introduced there was finalized here. What was new was the App Store, a unified place on every iPhone where customers could go to get native apps and games created by third party developers. Apple would handle all the logistics and transactions, keep 70% of the money for paid apps, and handle free apps for free. If the iPhone revolutionized the phone, it's safe to say the App Store revolutionized software.

The iPhone 3G was also announced, the first iPhone to be announced at a WWDC keynote. It was so similar to the original iPhone that Apple only incremented its model number by a minor digit — iPhone 1,2 — but it added both a 3G EDGE radio for GSM networking and GPS for location. It also fully embraced the subsidy model for the first time, dropping to an incredibly accessible $199 on contract in the U.S. and other markets.

.Mac, which had been Apple's online service, was reborn and rebranded as MobileMe. Originally called "Exchange for the rest of us", MobileMe was plagued by a troubled launch and was eventually replaced by iCloud.

With everyone at Apple bent on delivering iOS 2 (then iPhone OS 2), the software developers kit (SDK), the App Store, Mobile Me, and everything that went along with it, development on the next version of OS X, dubbed Snow Leopard (no wine codename) focused on under-the-hood performance improvements. Apple unabashedly marketed that as "no new features", something that, it turned out, deeply resonated with customers who wanted just exactly that.

Give it a watch and let me know — what do you think of WWDC 2008 and what, if anything, does it make you hope for at WWDC 2014?

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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

WWDC 2008 flashback: iPhone 3G, MobileMe, Snow Leopard, and the App Store


First the App Store: I knew from 2007 that if they had it in the works that they were finalizing things so it would work. Second: With MobileMe and .Mac I miss the fact that the sharing websites are no longer available with iCloud.
For WWDC 2014: Maybe the Home-Automation. And maybe FaceTime for Windows?

Home automation could be a very slow process. People just won't accept the compromises and iterations they do with gadgets until they really work how they want to.

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