After selling out in 2 minutes, it's time to re-think WWDC

After selling out in 2 minutes, it's time to re-think WWDC

Summary: Tickets for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June sold out in record time today. It's time to rethink how the company reaches its developers.


Tickets to Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) never sold out until 2008. Let's take a look back.

WWDC sells out in 2 minutes; it's time to re-think it
(Image: Apple)

By extension, 2014 WWDC tickets will probably sell out in 2 seconds. And you'll probably need to write a very clever script to actually procure tickets.

But when does WWDC turn from an event designed to help developers into a total farce? Some think that it's already happened. Red Sweater Software's Daniel Jalkut thinks that WWDC is "flat-out busted" and should end.

Some think that the size of the show should be increased, but at some point, the teacher to student ratio gets too diluted and its value is diminished. Cupertino, California, promotes the ability to "connect with Apple engineers" as a key benefit of attending WWDC, but it only has a finite amount of said engineers.

It has also been suggested that Apple increase the already astronomical ticket price beyond the current $1,600 level. While this might slow orders, it will have the side effect of turning WWDC into an even more elite event attended by only the most well-funded developers.

One solution is to offer tickets via a lottery system, where a "ticket request period" is opened for a week, and any registered developer can request a ticket by entering their complete billing information. After the window closes, an algorithm picks 5,000 developers at random and charges their card. Tickets could be requested exclusively from a special iOS app, just for the fun of it.

Apple could also prioritize tickets by seniority (the length of time you've been a registered developer), popularity (number of downloads of your apps), or success (based on gross sales). Or it could require requestors to solve a programming problem to prove that they're a developer.

Once tickets eventually sell out, Apple should webcast the keynote and the sessions. While Apple probably wouldn't give it away for free, it wouldn't be too difficult to sell a "stream package" at a discount to registered developers who could tune in from their home or office. Apple could even require an Apple device to view the stream like it did with its 2012 launch of the iPad mini.

Apple always posts the videos after the event, but the company needs to find a better and more efficient way to bring the content to its developers. Clearly the demand is there.

Topics: Apple, Apps, iOS, Software Development

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  • Losing their way in Cupertino

    There has always been plenty to both like and dislike about Apple, but for for me, the fact that they made great computers and an OS that fits the way I work has always kept me coming back. But now it seems they're losing their way in Cupertino.

    They've killed off off the 17" MacBook Pro, dumbed down OS X, destroyed the search functions to the point wherein a third party app is necessary to find invisible files....and hidden the user library into the bargain. Flexibility, connectivity, ease of use, user configurability..and many more of the things that made the Mac a solid workhorse are being jettisoned in favor of the obsession with Anorexic Chic™ .

    Apple went way south the first time Steve left, but he came back and pulled their chestnuts out of the fire. He can't do that this time. None of the current crop of clowns has the vision or the drive. They’re doing change for the sake of change, not change for the sake of the user. If they keep it up, it will bring them down.

    I've always chuckled at the twits who've perennially insisted that "Apple is doomed." I'm not chuckling now. The WWDC, wait--the WWDC fiasco is just more evidence that they're coasting in Cupertino. They've lost their driving wheel.
    • Yeah they are so popular they must be doomed

      What? you call their success a sign of failure?

      Should they just not let developers exist? Would that be better?

      I won't get to go - but I have access to the sessions just like every other developer does and has for years.

      Those sessions available online are the way I learnt iOS development.

      What else shoud they do?
    • Most of those changes you decry happened on Jobs' watch.

      Yet, you credit him with pulling "their chestnuts out of the fire." As for "change for the sake of change" I've been hearing that since Apple ditched the floppy drive, and yet 2-3 years later everyone else follows their lead and no one can remember being all worked up about the change. I'm not saying that Apple never backtracks, but I'll posit that they're never frivolous with business decisions.
    • Mountain Lion and Invisible Files

      No third party app needed...
  • WWDC

    selling out as fast as its downward stock price
    • I Agree

      The developers know where their money comes from; Wall Street doesn't have a clue.
      • Wall street must be wrong now or before

        If Wall street knew what it was doing when the stock price went up then it must be wrong now.

        If Wall Street is right now then it must have been wrong before.

        Or more likely it was wrong before and is wrong now and the correct price (if there is such a thing) is somewhere in the middle.

        Analysts seemed to think Apple was always going to grow to ridiculous levels and that it was not going to lose some market share as other players came in. These assumptions were clearly ridiculous.

        iPhone sales are still growing. Things are OK. The market is actually healthy as other players are there now.

        The Market apparently wanted an unassailable god ruling the market with 100% market share and thought Apple was on the way to that - how dumb!
        • If Wall Street knew what it was doing the Market would alway go up.

          Anyone paying attention to the news between 2008 and, well...yesterday would realize that Wall Street is like some kind of junky, totally without a sense of self-preservation when it comes to pursuit of it's "fix."
  • Simple Fix

    They should have a consecutive week, since all of Apple's engineering resources are there already, for another group of 5,000 who didn't attend the previous week. Now this may not include every developer but then not all developers, for varying reasons, attend the event anyway. Most journeyed developers are already plugged-in to Apple's resources and don't find the necessity to participate.
    • Or a separate event for Media

      Who, judging from reports coming out of past years, take up far too many of the seats.
  • Jalkut is right, WWDC is busted.

    But I don't think Apple cares enough to devote the effort to fix it. So 2013 is probably the last WWDC as we know it. It's a huge drain on the time of Apple's best technical personnel, and while the conference clearly has value for Mac and iOS developers, it's serving a very small percentage of them. If Apple is moving to a release cycle more focused on the fall quarter, having your best programmers spending several days in June away from the office isn't optimal. Doing that and serving only a small portion of your developer community makes even less sense. So, we'll probably see some kind of Developer U website where topics usually covered at WWDC are presented online as needed, and upon completion, as opposed to en masse once a year.
  • Easy fix for WWDC

    Stop making the keynote on the first day when they announce everything big. Separate the new hardware/software announcements from WWDC, so that the bloggers/media hacks who suck up a 1/3 of the tickets don't need to waste their money just attending the first day.
    • Tickets are separate for keynote

      Invites to the keynote are separate so it's not media and bloggers taking tickets away from developers.

      And can someone explain what is astronomical about the price? I attended the Tableau software conference last year and my company paid more than $1600 to send me there (not including airfare and hotel).
  • Isn't this just business as usual?

    "...will have the side effect of turning WWDC into an even more elite event attended by only the most well-funded developers."

    Doesn't that pretty much describe Apple's strategy for every segment, pervading corporate culture, and brand strategy? Why would any corporate event be different? Why lament when Apple is doing exactly what you would have them do?
  • The best things they could do would be...

    1. Live-stream the sessions, including the keynote.
    2. Publish the schedule on the WWDC site (instead of their cutesy little app) with links to the code and materials ready beforehand. Being able to completely follow along with the session presenters whether you're in Moscone or not would make the sessions more valuable more quickly.

    Those of us who want the advance look at iOS/OSX and aren't on the hunt for face time with Apple engineers would benefit a lot from this, and it might lessen the insane pressure to snag the tickets... and it might also lessen the PR problem Apple generate by not stress-testing their shopping cart system before unveiling it.