Apple's WWDC powwow: Few surprises, but a big iPhone upgrade cycle

Apple is expected to roll out its 4th generation iPhone at its Worldwide Developer's Conference in a few weeks and possibly demo a new Mac OS.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple is expected to roll out its 4th generation iPhone at its Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in a few weeks and possibly demo a new Mac OS, according to analysts projecting a gathering with few surprises. However, WWDC is likely to kick off a powerful iPhone upgrade cycle.

In a research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said Apple has "little room

for surprise" in its WWDC agenda. Munster's volley is just the opener for what is likely to be two weeks of speculation about what Apple will reveal at its developer powwow when Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address June 7.

Related: Gallery: Apple adds multitasking to iPhone 4.0

Here's what Munster thinks we'll hear from WWDC:

  • Apple will launch a new iPhone that will be "significantly re-designed, with meaningful new features like video conferencing." The device will land sometime in the summer. Munster writes:

Consistent with recent media reports, we expect the new iPhone to feature a front-facing camera for video conferencing, along with a new, thinner design, an improved rear camera, and better battery life, with higher capacity (32GB/64GB) at the current $199/$299 price points. We expect the new version to be popular among current iPhone 3G owners (a 2 year-old device) with a significantly different design and feature set (unlike the 3GS).

  • The iPhone 3GS will be Apple's new $99 device.
  • The latest iPhone won't be available at Verizon or Sprint at launch.
  • Apple CEO Steve Jobs will give us a tally of iPad sales.
  • And there may be a new Mac OS demo possible. Munster writes:

Software is a key differentiator for Apple but the Mac OS has not seen the same level of innovation as iPhone software in recent years. With the next version of Mac OS X, we expect Apple to bring some of the same innovation to the Mac platform. Multi-touch technology, for example could be a key feature of Mac OS 10.7.

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Barclays Capital Ben Reitzes put out a different wish list for WWDC. Reitzes had some overlap with Munster, but also had a few interesting nuggets. Among them:

  • "We wouldn’t be surprised to hear about enhanced services for Apple’s MobileMe service," said Reitzes.
  • 411625-540-360.jpg
    More details about Apple's iAd product, which will be available with iPhone OS 4.0. "It seems Apple will manage the bidding process and linking up of buyers and sellers of ad," said Reitzes.
  • AT&T is likely to keep iPhone exclusivity for the rest of 2010.

In any case, Reitzes is expecting Jobs keynote to create what will be a strong iPhone upgrade cycle. Speaking of the new iPhone, Reizes said new features for the iPhone like multitasking, folders and iBooks "are significant upgrades that will likely get users excited for the next generation iPhone. In fact, some of the features will not be available to older 3G & 2G iPhones and the 2nd generation iPod Touch and earlier models, which could fuel even more demand for upgrades."


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