Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Developers Love Apple's WWDC? Hint: It's not the Unlimited Supply of Odwalla Juice.

You can feel the love, even without attending. Apple's WWDC sold out in 72 seconds, and the unfortunate many, rather than skip the trip to San Francisco entirely, have created #AltWWDC, a simultaneous and free developer conference down the street from the main event.

And the rest of us got to share the love, as well, because at nearly the last minute, Apple announced it would stream the WWDC keynote, live. How many sat enraptured (or angered), alone at home or in groups at work for the entire two-hours—watching on one screen, while actively tweeting on another? (This Walrus among them.)

Substance, Hype, & the Message for Developers

Apple knows how to excite the troops, and there was plenty to cheer about: new operating systems coming this Fall, both OS X Mavericks and [iOS 7](, hundreds of new features, APIs, and UI design changes, plus new hardware including Darth Vader's surprisingly shiny, black, and cylindrical Mac Pro. Apple's doesn't appear to be getting lazy from success.

We wouldn't be geeks if we didn't love the new gadgets. Wasn't the Anki Drive AI/robotic car-gaming demo great?! Yes, but it's just part of the entertainment, not the reason we love WWDC. Nor is Apple's powerful hype-engine, working at full throttle, what's packing the Moscone West center.

The Ghost of Steve Jobs Loves On

Formerly, the mere presence of Steve Jobs was enough to account for the excitement generated around the WWDC keynotes, every one a kind of love fest. But Steve wouldn't have been Steve if he'd left anything to chance. So now we cheer his surrogates: Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, Eddie Cue, Jony Ive (always on video), and CEO, Tim Cook, not someone who craves the spotlight, but he, too, has developed his own comfortably-familiar on-stage presence.

Cook is master of ceremonies, chief of introductions, and presenter of the boring parts. Steve would always go through the litany of Apple successes, first: this is how we got where we are today, followed by it wouldn't have been possible without you, our devoted developers.

But that's the point, isn't it? This is why we love WWDC, and now Tim Cook is curator of this most important message:

Apple's phenomenal success wouldn't have been possible without us!

Don't believe me? Here are Cook's chosen statistics for the past year. Read them and be proud (you can't help it):

  • The App Store's 5th anniversary is next month.
  • 50 billion apps downloaded, "that's a lot of zeros," says Cook.
  • 900,000 apps in the app store, 375,000 for the iPad.
  • 93% of all apps are downloaded each month.
  • Apple has 575 million store accounts, most with credit cards and one-click buying. "More accounts with credit cards than any store on the Internet that we're aware of," says Cook.
  • Apple has paid out $10 billion to developers, $5 billion in the last year. "Three-times more than all other platforms combined," says Cook.
  • Cook showed a pie chart of App Download Revenue by Platform: 74% iOS, 20% Android, 6% all others
Cook's final slide showed these words:
"The App Store and iOS ecosystem give budding developers with great ideas the best chance for success." -Ron Conway, SV Angel.

It's this last quote that's the key, and Cook emphasized it by saying he particularly loved the ways Apple's App Store leveled the playing field for small developers so they could compete against big developers.

And that's why there were so many developers willing to pay big bucks to be in San Francisco for Apple's WorldWide Developer's Conference. It's the place to be. Wish I could have been there, too.

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