Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 could be a positive for Android despite Steve Jobs taking the wraps off iCloud, iOS 5 and OS X Lion, as many had expected the next generation iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5, to reveal its face.
Earlier this week, Apple showed off the latest version of its mobile operating system iOS 5, the next generation Mac operating system OS X Lion and its new cloud-based music, photo, video and data back-up service called iCloud.
All three received a great deal of attention as they were the latest advancements in Apple's software and services.
OS X Lion has 250 new features but only 10 features were presented by Apple at WWDC 2011. Some of them were Multitouch Gestures (which till now was only available in iOS), Full Screen Apps (the apps can be enlarged to fit the screen), Mission Control (combination of Expose and Spaces), Auto Save (Lion will automatically be able to save frequently what you’re working on), Resume (like iPhone users, Mac users will now be able to instantly resume an application where he/she had quit), Versions (the Lion can save all versions of the file you’re working on) and AirDrop (Wi-Fi based peer-to-peer file moving utility).
iOS 5 is also a formidable new mobile operating system. Apple said iOS 5 comes with 1500 new APIs and 200 new features, but walked the audience through top 10 features including improved Notifications, News Stand (similar to iBooks but dedicated to magazines and newspapers), Twitter Integration (Apple has integrated Twitter UI with the camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and Contacts), Reminders (the new Reminders app, which even has geolocation capabilities, now makes it possible to maintain multiple list and save them with dates to alert you), PC Free Function (no need to hook up mobile Apple devices with PC to access iTunes as iOS updates are now possible over the air), Delta Updates (now download only the necessary update and not the entire app/software) and iMessage (iMessage, which comes with read and delivery receipts and real time typing indication, allows iOS users to send text and multimedia messages over Wi-Fi and 3G).
As for iCloud, it could very well be Apple's shot at redemption especially after it pulled a bummer with MobileMe service.
Though cloud-based services are not new, Apple's iCloud is probably the first cloud-based service that automatically stores content in cloud and wirelessly pushes them out to all Apple devices.
Unlike Google's Music Beta digital locker and Amazon's Cloud Drive, iCloud will be able to scan a user's library and make mirror copies available instantly.
iCloud, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, is going to be pretty big as everything is now automatic, seamless and effortless and it could mean the end of file storage system.
In iCloud, one can not only store contacts, calendars, mail and documents. One can also store music, photos, videos, apps, and e-books (iBooks) but iCloud can also be used to store APIs.
The App Store and iTunes are also now on iCloud, which means that any music, movies or apps purchased through iTunes or App Store can be pushed down to any Apple device.
The best thing, however, about iCloud is probably iMatch.
For just a flat $24.99 annual fee, iMatch will match the user's ripped songs with 18 million+ songs in iTunes and upgrade them to higher quality 256kbps AAC DRM-free.
The remaining songs that could not be matched has to be uploaded manually. First time we've seen this in the music industry, Jobs said. If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong.
However, despite all these, Apple has managed to disappoint millions of fans, especially those who were expecting the technology giant to present the much-awaited iPhone 5.
It has been nearly a year that Apple launched iPhone 4 and over the period, several high-end models of Android smartphones have reared their heads, threatening to topple iPhone from its lofty perch.
According to a recent ComScore report, the market share of Google's Android surged to 36.4 percent even as Apple's iPhone dropped down to second place with 26 percent market share. Apple was barely ahead of RIM's BlackBerry (25.7 percent).
In terms of mobile phone sales in the U.S., Apple also lagged, ranking No.4 (8.3 percent) behind Google Android smartphone makers like Samsung (24.5 percent), LG (21 percent) and Motorola (15.6 percent).
A Nielsen survey has also revealed that Android smartphone users download more apps on average than iPhone users despite Apple's App Store being more than twice bigger than Android Market Place.
Apple's stubborn decision to say no to Adobe Flash, the antennagate issue and Foxconn sweatshop controversy have marred iPhone 4's success even as emergence of high-end Android smartphones such as LG Optimus 2X (the first Android phone with 1GHz dual-core processor) and Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation 4G threaten to erode iPhone’s popularity.
Other Android smartphones lined up for launch and expected to give iPhone a run for its money are HTC Evo 3D, the Motorola XPRT, the Motorola Titanium, Samsung Gravity Smart and Samsung Exhibit 4G.
iPhone 5, though not expected to feature radical hardware changes, will come with beefy specs such as 8 MP camera, A5 processor, a 4-inch display, 1080p output, curved glass screen, a SIM-less design, 3-4 internal antennas for both GSM and CDMA networks and 4G connectivity.
Had iPhone 5 been released this month, it would have stood a chance, perhaps even stolen a march over Android rivals, thanks to iOS 5 and iCloud.
However, by not presenting iPhone 5 at the WWDC 2011, Apple could have just shot itself on the leg as by the time iPhone 5 is unveiled, Android smartphones will be boasting of similar features if not superior ones.
Apple is making a big gamble and Steve Jobs knows it. But Jobs is a man who hates to lose and so iPhone 5 could, after all, have a few tricks up its sleeve that the world does not know about.
Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White feels that Apple would probably put off iPhone 5 launch till September, when the company begins its new financial year, rather than launch it within months of the launch of the white iPhone 4, which is doing extremely well.
The September launch will also help Apple tide over problems related to supply delay, the analyst said.
Agrees Susquehanna Financial analyst Chris Caso. Our checks at multiple levels of the supply chain point to a one-to-two-month delay in the production start for the next-generation iPhone vs. our earlier view of a July production start, Caso wrote in a note to clients.