WWDC 2008

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For those who don’t follow Apple, the WWDC 2008 keynote would probably give the impression that all Apple cares about these days is the iPhone. And to be honest, they are. The next couple of months are iPhone Months™. Don’t expect much hype about the Mac or iPod.

iPhone 3G
The unimaginatively named successor to the first iPhone will have 3G networking for faster cellular access to the net as well as GPS (something I didn’t expect to be built in), giving Google Maps a huge boost on the device.

However, the phone being subsidized brings with it some undesirable side-effects. For one, activation will have to be done in-store. That just sounds like a disaster come July 11 when the iPhone 3G goes on sale and crowds of people line up to buy one.

But the biggest attribute of the iPhone 3G is the $199 price point. Even though the device will be more costly to own than the previous iPhone (the dataplan fee rose by $10), people are largely concerned only with the sticker price. $199 with a 2 year, $70/month service plan is a lot easier to swallow for most people than $499 with a 2 year, $60/month service plan.


Now we’re getting into more interesting territory. This new, terribly named, replacement to .Mac appears to be a complete overhaul of the service, both from a conceptual standpoint, as well as a functional one.

.Mac was originally named iTools and was a free service that shipped with every Mac. It didn’t provide much in the way of storage, but it was a simple service that tied well into the Mac OS. However, Apple eventually saw the profit potential in iTools and decided to make it a subscription service. It’s capabilities were expanded and an annual price tag of $99 was established. Since then, it’s gone downhill.

Before MobileMe was announced, .Mac provided Address Book, iCal, Mail Rules and Dashboard Widget syncing with multiple Macs as well as 10GB of online storage, iDisk, an online general purpose storage disk, .Mac Web Gallery, which allowed users to quickly upload their photos to the web from iPhoto, and iWeb integration.

However, the service has been plagued with reliability problems and it’s feature set simply didn’t justify the $99 subscription fee in the eyes of most Mac users.

MobileMe appears to be a big step up. The most noticeable differences are the 20GB of online storage per user and a full set of rich web applications. The former is a fairly solid upgrade while the latter is quite impressive. Apple’s Mail, Contacts, Calendar and iDisk web apps are beautifully designed and look almost exactly like their Mac OS X counterparts.

But the biggest change is something that many users won’t truly appreciate until they actually begin to use it. Instead of the periodic sync provided by .Mac, where Mac OS X performs a sync operation every 10 or 20 minutes, MobileMe uses Push to perform the same tasks. That means that as soon as you change a contact or make a draft email in Address Book and on your Mac, those changes are immediately pushed to the online service and from there, pushed to any other devices tied to the same MobileMe account. This is a set of services that primarily only businesses using Microsoft’s Exchange server have had access to. Apple’s managed to make a consumer-oriented subset of the same set of services available to the general public.

Another interesting point are the devices to be used with MobileMe. Yes, there’s Mac, iPhone and iPod touch support, but also Windows PCs can be used with it. Using Microsoft Outlook on Windows XP or Windows Vista, you can get the same exact set of services available to Mac users. In fact, much of Apple’s Guided Tour for MobileMe is done in Windows Vista. And it’s fairly obvious why: Apple wants to sell the service to Windows iPhone users.


Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Keeping in line with Steve Jobs publicly stated 12 to 18 month release cycle for operating systems, Mac OS X Snow Leopard is set to be released in about a year’s time. With no major new end-user features (save for Exchange Support), the upgrade focuses primarily on developer and under-the-hood features and refinements.

Grand Central, a set of frameworks that help make it easier for developers to take advantage of multicore systems, and QuickTime X, a major overhaul of QuickTime based on the media capabilities of the iPhone/iPod touch OS, are the two features I find most interesting.

But more interesting than the features themselves is the fact that Apple is even pushing out an upgrade of this nature in the first place. With Vista being such a PR mess for Microsoft, Apple can afford to release an OS upgrade without any marketable features for end-users.


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

June 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Apple, WWDC

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2 Responses

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  1. Wait Kum… I am not getting your math. Why is the 3G more costly to own?

    (199$ + 24*70$ = 1879$) < (499$ + 24*60$ = 1939$)

    Either way… a lot of money for a toy. I like the sound of that GPS feature though. I think when I overcome my hatred and shun-ness of cellphones, I will probably end up getting an iPhone; unless there are better alternatives by then.

    Nice post, pleasant to read.


    November 12, 2008 at 12:37 am

  2. Sorry, I should have said that the $70/month service doesn’t include the 200 text messages that the $60/month service had. When you include that, I do believe it comes out to a higher price.


    November 12, 2008 at 7:45 am

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