The Apple Design Awards – Original post April 29, 2010

This is a weird one. Apple finally (and rather late really) announced the WWDC 2010 dates and such. And dropped a bit of a shocker on the long-standing Mac developer community.

The Apple Design Awards, long coveted as awards recognizing some of the best in design, performance and functionality on the Mac, and recently on the iPhone OS (including iPod) this year are only accepting iPhone OS apps and iPad apps. ADAs for apps that haven’t even been shipping a full quarter? And NONE for the Mac. You can’t nominate anything that doesn’t have an app store URL.

This really seems a callous slap in the face of Mac developers. Somebody has to make the Mac good for more than just developing iPhone apps, and these guys do it. But that seems to have been lost on Apple this year.

Looking at the session overview though, I have a theory of sorts on this and what’s coming up.

The sessions are VERY heavy on iPhone OS, mostly iPhone OS 4. There are Mac streams as well, but really mostly specialized streams. There’s also no IT stream listed this year. That’s another big break from last year.

No, I don’t think Apple is bailing on the Mac platform, and no I don’t think they are going to kill off development on it or on the server OS. What I do think is they wound up with a year of heavy focus on iPhone and the iPad, and that actually drained their engineers away a lot from the rest of the work. Let’s face it, they put a pile of effort into Snow Leopard in the guts, with OpenCL, the LLVM stack, GCD, and an acre of other bits. This year it’s iPhone OS 4 that looks like it’s really chewing up a lot of time, plus they need to get the iPad onto that release as well (I’ll bet that’s to be announced at WWDC this year).

So I’m going to predict that 10.7 is not coming on the usual release cycle. I think we’re looking at WWDC 2011 will be a resurgence on the Mac side as it will likely be an off-year for iPhone OS in many ways as they enhance 4.0 and start thinking about 5.0. WWDC 2011 will preview 10.7 that will have some of the iPhone OS showing up in the touch interface capabilities, possibly with some new hardward in the iMac line with touch screens in the fall, and 10.7 released with those. The level of quality that Apple usually churns out I think has actually stretched them on this one, and they can’t keep 3.5 product lines cranking, being the Mac, iPhone, iPad and the 0.5 of the iPod being an adjusted iPhone. So they wind up with sort of an iPhone/iPad/iPod year of WWDC with a minor Mac focus, then (hopefully) a major Mac focus with a minor mobile, or even more ideally for both groups (though expensive for those with feet in both ponds) they split to have a mobile WWDC and a Mac WWDC.

Then the ADAs could have mobile ADAs and Mac ADAs. And all would be a bit more balanced again in the universe. Maybe even the odd Universal ADA for software like OmniFocus that spans all of them. If all the platform implementations are good enough.

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