The pitch of iPhone rumors keeps climbing towards a teeth-grinding, mind-numbing howl in advance of Monday's announcements at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Will the likely actual announcements and demonstrations — of an iPhone software platform that really can be used for the enterprise, of an improved Mac OS X OS for client and server machines, of better tools for developers, and of improved support for the Mac in the SMB space, and dare we say it, the enterprise — be a total letdown for the rumor machine?
The community and Wall Street appear to be single-mindedly focused on hardware announcements, either a low-end $99 iPhone or an Apple netbook. Or a refresh of the iPhone 3G, with more memory or more everything. Or news of a tablet-style Mac from Apple. For example, a CNET story runs down the "things that appear likely."
Of course, there could be some hardware announcement. Or not, which will likely rile the rumor machine and "The Market," with their common wisdom about what should have been introduced.
Several years ago in a post, I recalled an Apple introduction in 1997. We would do well to remember this event at this moment.
I was then the executive editor for news at MacWEEK. One of the nerve-wracking parts of my job was to bet on exactly what products Apple executives would announce on a given launch event and then dig out the details of the products, such as the processor speeds and cost for the models. Despite our many sources, there was always a worry since stories on the front page of the newsweekly were written days in advance of the Monday publishing date. Things can change,
Just as tough as the reporting from inside the curtain in Cupertino was going up against the tide of rumors floating about outside Apple (and sometimes inside). Then, just as now, there were all kinds of rumors of what Apple would announce and what the company should announce.
Back in 1997, the strongest rumor was about some kind of mobile computing device or a tablet. Sound familiar?
Instead, Apple released its first PowerPC G3 notebooks, the PowerBook G3/250, which for that quarter (at least) was the fastest notebook computer on the market. The company announced a new midrange G3 desktop. And it totally revamped its retail strategy with a store-within-a-store model, that is still in use today and which became the testbed for the Apple Store.
Read more at Will the rumor machine ruin Apple's iPod surprise?
But all of this was "bulls%$#," according to the reporter who sat next to me in the auditorium on the De Anza college campus, and a "big waste of time." She considered the "missing" announcements to be a failure on Apple's part.
Here's the thing: whatever the hardware announcement that may or may not be made at WWDC, the real story at this year's WWDC is that Apple is making serious gains in the enterprise and especially mid-sized and smaller businesses.
More Windows and open-source applications are being ported to Mac OS X and barriers to the Mac's adoption in enterprise and government markets are being removed. And at WWDC, we will find that more formerly PC-market developers are working with Mac development tools by way of the iPhone and talking up the Mac inside enterprise IT shops.
Even better for Apple, the concept of platform diversity is gaining traction. This started with client machines and is now working its way to servers in departments and divisions as well as the data center.
Reid Lewis, CEO of Group Logic, pointed to the "explosion of different stacks in the enterprise" at the Macworld Expo. His company is one of the founding members of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, a trade group pushing the enterprise Mac.
Lewis compared the current upward move of the Mac in the enterprise market to the beer market of 1970s. There were the giant brands such a Budwiser, Papst and Schlitz, and then a bunch of micro, local craft brewers that were only known in speciality shops. However nowadays, you can find even the local corner store refrigerator aisle packed with small-label beers.
This is fun analogy. So, no longer will you get beaten up for ordering a Mac in certain bars? Maybe they will even have Mac OS X on tap. It is happening.
Here's a list of the IT sessions and labs at next week's WWDC. The Snow Leopard Server sessions on calendar and contact management, and its Mobile Access Server sound very interesting.