Apple Could Debut iPhone 4G At WWDC, but Don't Expect Ballmer

Apple CEO Steve Jobs will take the stage during the company's 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference June 7, with many analysts expecting he will use that platform to announce the next version of the popular iPhone. Other rumors swirling around the conference, such as Apple announcing an iPhone for Verizon or Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appearing to promote Silverlight, have either been debunked or remain pure scuttlebutt. Apple already revealed the iPhone OS 4 during an April presentation at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

When Apple's 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 7, the expectation from many company-watchers is that CEO Steve Jobs will debut the next version of the iPhone. While that would keep in Apple's tradition of rolling out the latest update to its bestselling smartphone each summer, the bigger question is whether Apple will use the WWDC to announce something more unexpected, such as the iPhone on Verizon.

The WWDC, which runs June 7-11 at San Francisco's Moscone West, provides technical sessions and labs for developers interested in creating programs for the iPhone, iPad and Mac platform. For conference attendees this year, Apple has chosen to focus on five tracks in particular: Application Frameworks, Internet & Web, Graphics & Media, Developer Tools, and Core OS.

However, most of the attention seems focused on the possible next-generation iPhone debut. A May 17 report by Taiwan-based Digitimes suggested that Apple would not only unveil the iPhone 4G during the conference, but also ship as many as 24 million of the devices in 2010.

In another sign that Apple could indeed be preparing to announce a new smartphone edition, sales of its older iPhone 3G have been discontinued on its company Website, despite a page touting the device as still available for $99.

Apple already revealed the iPhone OS 4 during an April 8 presentation at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. The new smartphone operating system includes multitasking, a first-ever for the iPhone, as well as "iAd," which allows developers to deliver mobile advertisements within apps themselves.

"We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best," Jobs told the audience during that presentation, referring to the new multitasking feature.

Even if an iPhone unveiling seems a done deal in many people's minds for the WWDC, though, other rumors swirling around the conference are more vaporous.

Among them: that Apple will announce a version of the iPhone for Verizon, despite Apple's agreement with AT&T to carry the smartphone exclusively through 2012. Rumors have also persisted that Apple will announce a Verizon carrier deal for its popular iPad, which currently offers 3G connectivity in the United States through AT&T.

Another piece of scuttlebutt-that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would appear at the conference to tout his company's mobile productivity applications or Silverlight-was subsequently debunked by multiple sources.

Apple will likely get more than enough attention with a new smartphone, but it could face a rather unique problem this time around: Thanks to tech blog Gizmodo, which in April posted a long-winded dissection of what it claimed was the next-generation iPhone, many of the features of the upcoming device may already be public record. That prototype included a front-facing camera module, potentially for video conferencing, as well as a larger battery and high-definition screen. A few weeks later, Vietnamese online forum Taoviet also posted a video and images of a supposed next-generation iPhone prototype, which bore remarkable similarities to the Gizmodo version.

"If Apple comes out with a phone that is just a little bit better than the [iPhone] 3GS, people are going to feel Google is innovating quicker than Apple, which is what the analysts are batting about right now," Michael Oh, president of Apple specialist Tech Superpowers, told eWEEK May 30. "If they come out with something revolutionary, something like what [Google mobile OS] Android is bringing to the table-wireless syncing-that could be huge."

Oh added: "That's the real key to WWDC-how is Apple going to come out of this -Apple versus Google' battle."