Inside Apple: Stomping on Vista; iPhone Launch Crisis
Posted by Dresonic on May 10, 2007
With roughly one month to go, speculation is ramping up concerning the announcements Apple will make at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The company confirmed in early May that CEO Steve Jobs will once again deliver the keynote address at what has become Apple’s major mid-year platform for launching products. Think Secret sources report Apple will announce an official ship date for the iPhone at WWDC—some time in the second half of June—and the company is expected to start accepting pre-orders for the hotly anticipated item following the keynote on June 11.
n preparation for the release, sources report Cingular personnel have been conducting extensive network tests in each Apple retail store in an effort to ensure the iPhone is demonstrated in the best light possible.
Cingular, as the only U.S. carrier of the iPhone, is presumably performing network upgrades where necessary so that its service functions at the highest level possible in the stores. The company expects the iPhone to create “the biggest selling period [Cingular has] seen in a few years”, according to an internal memo circulated to employees that also noted no employee vacation requests would be approved from June 15 through July 15 to ensure adequate staff is on hand during the initial roll-out. The iPhone will only be available through the Apple Web site, Apple retail stores, and Cingular-owned retail stores, the companies have previous said.
Apple has yet to make a decision regarding most overseas carriers for the iPhone. Sources report that Europe in particular remains in the air as executives from mobile provider Orange continue to make their case to Apple for carrying the iPhone, despite main competitor Vodafone’s more extensive presence in the region. While there remains the possibility of Apple selecting carriers on a per-country basis rather than continental—Orange is particularly strong in the United Kingdom, but lags behind elsewhere—sources anticipated Apple will ultimately select a single carrier.
For Mac users, WWDC, which has traditionally focused on Apple’s computer products, will mark one year to the date since Apple first publicly demonstrated Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Nonetheless, the operating system that recently saw its release date pushed back four months to October, is expected to occupy a substantial portion of the WWDC keynote as Apple demonstrates the first “feature complete” version of Leopard.
In what might seem to some like the product’s second unveiling, Jobs will show off for the first time the much touted “top secret” features he alluded to at last year’s developers conference. To date, the builds of Leopard Apple has routinely provided to third-party developers have contained relatively few new features for end-users. New Parental Controls, support for multiple desktops called Spaces, and a built-in backup utility dubbed Time Machine round out the primary new features in Leopard, although less notable improvements can be seen throughout most facets of the operating system.
Much has been discussed regarding Leopard’s features that have been kept under wraps, including speculation as to whether they even existed when Jobs spoke of them one year ago or whether Apple was embroiled in license discussions surrounding third-party patents it might be using.
For their part, Think Secret sources have said only that Apple’s executive team was surprisingly underwhelmed by Microsoft’s Windows Vista release earlier this year, and that rather than playing “catch up” to its long-standing rival, Apple elected to take more time developing and refining new features in Leopard to cement Mac OS X’s leading position.
There also remains the possibility that Apple will offer the first demonstration of its new iWork and iLife suites at WWDC, albeit that’s less likely given the developer-centric audience at the show. But if rumors that Apple may be bundling the new iLife with Leopard, the first look would be a natural fit.
Apple is also expected to roll out an updated MacBook Pro line at or around WWDC. The company recently ordered 100,000 next-generation 15.4-inch displays that feature LED backlights from Asian manufacturers. As discussed in this column in February, LED backlights create a brighter image while consuming less power. In addition, such displays are thinner and more environmentally friendly than traditional cold cathode fluorescent backlights (CCFL) that Apple’s displays currently use.
LED backlight displays are in short supply, however, and their cost is greater than CCFL backlight displays. Firms that produce the displays have also only perfected manufacturing them at smaller screen sizes, meaning an updated 17-inch MacBook Pro will likely sport a similar display to today’s model.
The new MacBook Pro is expected to be powered by Intel’s Santa Rosa platform, which calls for a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor with a faster front-side bus than current models. The performance gains are said to be noticeably but modest overall.
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