Why Apple's developer conference matters
The tech world and investors are hoping to be wowed by Monday's announcements.
Say one word, Apple (AAPL), and 10,000 people will click to see what follows. Guaranteed. It's so certain that at least one site, Seeking Alpha, restricts how many times writers can use the word each month, lest they get lazy.
The reason? No man has made more money for small investors, ever, than Steve Jobs. If you bought shares of what was then Apple Computer, on Feb. 20, 1998, at $5 each, you now have shares worth more than $580 each.
Because of his complicated history with the company, Jobs didn't own a huge stake in the firm, unlike Bill Gates (at one point) and Mark Zuckerberg with their respective firms. Ordinary investors made big money with Steve Jobs, massive money, and that's why he remains, even after his death, the business equivalent of Elvis Presley.
For these investors, today is a very big deal. Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which Jobs turned into the site of his big product announcements, is Christmas. The first Christmas without daddy.
It's Christmas because today is when the box is opened, and we get to see what everyone will be buying this year, what everyone will want, something that might transform the world as we know it.
Doc Searls, a blogger not known for hyperbole, is predicting it will be Apple TV , which will do to cable networks what the iPod did to music publishers.
He's expecting an iPad-like resolution, with far more pixels (and thus a much brighter picture) than with HDTV. He expects a whole new user interface, and a completely different business model, where you just buy what you want.
Mashable is expecting new versions of Apple's operating systems, new Macs, and maybe just a software development kit for Apple TV. Apple Insider is expecting a new MacBook Pro and they have pictures of the circuit board.
The biggest hope is that Apple will fix Siri, the voice interface with which many have developed a profound love-hate relationship. Slashgear shot a picture of the hall before the event, from outside, and spied an iOS6 sign. This means that the WWDC might be returning to its roots, as a place where developers come to get their hands on the latest software and see what they can do with it. Like the famous "developers" dance of Steve Ballmer (six years old now) at Microsoft's (MSFT)WWDC. (Microsoft owns and publishes TechBiz, an MSN Money site.)
If that turns out to be the case, it's time to sell. The difference between Microsoft and Apple, in this decade, has been that Apple didn't woo developers. It presented miracles, which developers had to adapt to if they wanted to stay relevant. If you need developers, you don't have the whole problem solved. You should make developers need you.
When Jobs passed on, I compared new CEO Tim Cook to Jackson Browne. Browne was a big act in 1977. He is still, by all accounts, a fine musician and a noble human being. But he's not Elvis, will never be Elvis, and won't pretend to be Elvis.
So to small investors, today matters, a lot. Will we be wowed? Or will we be asking, at the end of the day, is that all there is?
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