Return of Jobs, $149 iPhone Announcements at Apple WWDC?
While any product announcement, conference or rumor regarding computer maker Apple draws a tidal wave of interest, the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which runs June 8-12, is fueling speculation over a reduced-price iPhone and the return of Steve Jobs to the lead position in the company after a stint on medical leave.
The Wall Street Journal reports people familiar with the matter say Jobs is expected to return to the company in the position of chief executive. He has been on leave since January 2009 dealing with issues related to hormone imbalance. However, the paper reports the question of whether Jobs will actually appear at WWDC has not yet been resolved.
Regarding the possibility of a cheaper iPhone, priced at $149 or perhaps as low as $99, the Financial Times quotes inside sources as saying Apple may debut the less expensive model as early as Monday, when the conference kicks off. Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty told the publication Apple would announce a $50 or $100 price cut for the popular smartphone, which currently has more than 17 million users in more than 80 countries.
A review of the Palm Pre smartphone by the Journal's Walt Mossberg suggested the columnist already had the iPhone 3.0, which various reports say will offer 100 new features. "Whether the Pre is better than the iPhone depends on your personal preferences, though I'd note that the new iPhone to be unveiled next week will have lots of added features that could alter those calculations," he wrote.
Various reports suggest the road map for the iPhone 3.0 operating system could also make its debut during the conference. The rumor mill kicked into overdrive in March, when Apple executives offered up a preview of the iPhone OS 3.0 hardware. Michael Oh, president of Boston-based Apple specialist Tech Superpowers, says while an announcement of OS 3.0 may not cause celebration in the general consumer market, the possibility is good that developers at the conference will be pleased with what they see and hear.
"This is the WWDC, so for all the places to tell 3.0 as the next platform for developers to latch onto, this is obviously the best place to do it," he notes. "We're not going to see things where people are leaping up and down in the consumer space, and the developers behind doors are going to be saying, this is great, and look what we can do with the possibilities."
In regard to a low-price iPhone, Oh predicts that announcement will be saved for a later date. "I would be very surprised to see Apple make a low-cost move," he says, admitting a low-priced, high-volume product like the iPhone would draw significant attention to the company. "Apple generally doesn't leap down to the lower price point until everybody else has landed there--I don't see the low-cost iPhone happening this time around."
Apple calls the WWDC the "premier technical event" for developers and IT professionals working with Apple platforms, with more than 1,000 engineers gathering in San Francisco. The conference provides technical sessions presented by Apple engineers for operating systems for the iPhone and its Mac computer software, as well as hands-on labs and the Apple Design Awards.