Apple has traditionally previewed new iOS software at the conference and then released it to the public when a new iPhone is introduced later in the year. This week’s event, which costs $1,600 to attend, is geared toward application developers. As Google, Microsoft Corp. and Blackberry try to lure engineers to build for their systems, Apple is trying to maintain the loyalty of those who create games and applications.
Cook last month said the company would be giving developers more opportunities to add features that can be integrated in to Apple’s operating systems.
“It used to be that people bought devices because of the hardware and how the phone looked and maybe what kind of camera it had,” said Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Now people’s loyalty is the larger ecosystem and the applications.”
In addition to developers, Apple also needs to add software and services to convince customers, along with wireless carriers that subsidize the iPhone, that the device’s ecosystem is still worth a premium compared with the cost of rival device, according to Barclays’s Reitzes.
Apple’s planned music-streaming service, similar to Pandora Media Inc.’s online-radio service, will be free and supported by advertising. The iPhone maker signed an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment, the final record-company holdout, on June 7, said people with knowledge of the situation.
After Cook appointed Ive to rethink the mobile operating system, engineers have been racing to finish the software on time for today’s event. Ive, along with software head Craig Federighi, took over the duties of former mobile-software chief Scott Forstall, a key presenter at past Apple events who left the company as part of Cook’s management shake-up.
Even as iOS is overhauled, Apple will have to prevent a repeat of last year’s mapping software blunder. Although the company touted its new mapping software as being better than rivals, it was widely faulted for bad directions and missing features, marring the debut of the iPhone 5.
While Apple created the market for mobile touch-screen devices, the company hasn’t made any radical changes to the software running those gadgets since Jobs first pulled the iPhone out of his pocket in 2007. While Jobs said Apple’s innovations gave it a five-year head start, Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp. and others have caught up, according to Benedict Evans, an analyst at Enders Analysis in London.
“We’re now at a point where the difference between iOS and Android is a matter of personal choice and preference, and both of them have strong points and weak points,” Evans said. “The real issue is what are you going to do in the next five years. What is the road map to making the iPhone of five years time fundamentally superior to the iPhone today?”