No iPhone at WWDC? Really?
This morning we learned that Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference does not herald the return of CEO Steve Jobs. Now comes word that it may not herald the announcement of the company’s next-generation iPhone either. In a note to clients today, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that when Phil Schiller and friends deliver the keynote address at WWDC next month they will discuss software only–iPhone 3.0 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Apple (AAPL), says Munster, will save the next-generation iPhone for a later event scheduled after Jobs returns to the company.
“…We believe Apple will focus on the new version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard at WWDC,” Munster writes. “While some investors may be expecting Apple to launch redesigned iPhones at WWDC, we do not anticipate the launch in early June. Rather, we expect Apple to host a special event in late June or early July to launch a family of iPhones. We continue to expect multiple models, possibly a high-end iPhone with improved specs from the current version and a low-end version with lower capacity and fewer features along with a reduced pricing plan. Such a model could also be used in Apple’s launch of the iPhone into China as soon as the end of summer ’09.”
Munster’s is an … ahem … interesting theory. But remember, now that it has withdrawn from Macworld, WWDC is Apple’s biggest event of the year. Surely it wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to debut the latest iPhone there–especially when Palm (PALM) is expected to announce its new Pre handset on June 5, just three days before the WWDC keynote. And if the latest update of the device is as modest as some reports claim, there’s no need for Jobs to be on hand to announce it. It’s not a milestone product, and Schiller could easily handle it. Then the company could plan the late June/early July event to which Munster refers around that media tablet Apple’s rumored to be developing–with Jobs presiding, of course.
UPDATE: Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber notes that if the next generation iPhone includes updated hardware, Apple will almost certainly announce it at WWDC. Why? Says Gruber, “…If there are any new hardware features — like say a video camera or magnetometer — that means new APIs, and if Apple wants to have WWDC sessions for the new hardware-specific APIs, they have to announce the hardware first.”