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Opinion: iPhone, iPad and iTV are now too important for Apple to waste at WWDC

iOS 6 changes will likely help big corporates

Opinion: iPhone, iPad and iTV are now too important for Apple to waste at WWDC
Does it matter that a technologically innovative company like Apple is now so dull when it comes to WWDC keynotes?

Probably not.

WWDC has traditionally been the event where Apple talks to its hardcore developers, and those developers use Apple devices with keyboards every day, so talking to them means talking about Mac hardware and software.

Big fish, bigger pond

Sure, iOS hardware is the company's main revenue stream, but that also means it's too important to be announced in a WWDC keynote, although iOS 6 is clearly considered dull enough to be lumped in with talk of Mountain Lion and MacBook Air.

New iPhones, iPads and TVs get their own special events; something aided by iPhone and iPad's respective April and October refresh cycles. Early June is too early to talk about the next iPhone.

The loss of Steve Jobs hasn't helped the situation in terms of the keynote as a performance, either.

As capable as Tim Cook, Steve Forstall, Phil Schiller et al are, they're never not going to set the blood pumping.

You'd think Jonathan Ive could provide something different, but he's obviously not comfortable on stage, preferring to send pre-recorded dispatches from the cutting edge of the hardware manufacturing process.

Takeaways?

Still, there are points that can taken from 2012's keynote.

A key area Apple continues to focus on is social integration. Of course, Facebook integration could and should have happened in iOS 5. Both Apple's and Facebook's intransigence was at fault.

Instead, Apple went with Twitter, with Tim Cook noting that 10 billion tweets - 47 percent of which were photos - had been sent from iOS 5 devices.

It seems like a lot although it's dwarfed by the 1 billion daily iMessages that are being sent daily by 140 million users.

This demonstrates that as Apple continues to improve iOS, it's increasingly becoming a 'closed' system that rewards your communication with other iOS users and makes multi-platform and/or activity on many third party iOS applications more difficult.

In this way, all iOS 6 new features - Maps, better Photo features, Passbook etc - are labelled now as 'killers' for developers of similar third party apps - i.e. Maps is a 'Google Map killer', Photo an 'Instagram killer', Passbook a 'TicketLeap killer' etc.

That's the Apple way, but such silo-ing may come to annoy their users in the longterm rather than delighting them if - as with Game Center - they are not as updated by Apple as regularly as the specialist app developers update.

Deeper and deeper

But, for developers, OS-level integration of Facebook and Twitter is something that shouldn't be ignored - although there's a strong argument if it helps anyone, it's more likely to be the large media groups who are already spending heavily on marketing than the smaller studios looking for free virality.

We'll have to see if this makes breakout indie hits such as Temple Run and Tiny Wings grow quicker and faster. Certainly, it will make the Apple app ecosystem faster and more competitive.

Another stat that cuts both ways is that there have been 1.5 trillion push notifications on Apple devices. It's a huge number, but not I think an altogether positive one if my experience with push notification spamming is anything to go by.

Big number, low impact?

Similarly, the news that Game Center has 130 million users is interesting, but despite the fact they're sending 5 billion score updates a week, it's not clear that Game Center is driving discoverability or retention at any significant level.

Maybe the ability to play cross platform with people running OS X Mountain Lion will help grow the gaming ecosystem, but again it's likely better news for companies developing high end 3D games than 2D touch-based puzzlers.

For example, the game used to demonstrate this feature was the console-quality CSR Racing, a new title from the already successful and well funded UK developer NaturalMotion.

All-in-all then, this wasn't a keynote to generate genuine headlines, and it's not clear how the enhancements to iOS 6 will play out - at least for the smaller players.

Still, this doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't consider how to jazz up its WWDC keynotes. If nothing else, shortening the event from its current two hour drag would be a start.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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Nicholas Lovell
130 million Gamecenter users? It's amazing how few people I know are on it then.

I would love to know the MAU figure. And then I would like Apple to aid discoverability so that there are actually people I know on there.

Average number of friends would be an interesting stat. My guess is <1/10 the average number of friends on FB