Apple (AAPL) announced today that marketing head Phil Schiller — not CEO Steve Jobs — will give the company’s keynote at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco early next month.
The quick take is that it suggests Apple won’t announce a new iPhone at the event, because some believe that only Steve Jobs can announce a new iPhone for Apple. Instead, some observers like Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster believe that Schiller and co. will spend their WWDC keynote talking about the new “Snow Leopard” Mac OS, and that it will host a media event in late June or July to announce new iPhones.
Well, maybe. Apple could certainly draw a crowd anywhere, anytime, especially to announce a new iPhone.
But that wouldn’t be the biggest stage. Now that Apple has pulled out of IDG’s Macworld Expo, WWDC is Apple’s biggest event of the year. Its iPhone App Store is its fastest growing developer community, too — that’s why WWDC sold out so fast this year. It just seems that the company would want to show off the new version of its most important product at its biggest event of the year.
And there’s a few other reasons we think a new iPhone on June 8 isn’t off the table:
- Apple’s first set of iPhone contracts run out in late June. With the Palm Pre on the market as possible temptation, Apple will want to have its new iPhone out ASAP. (That said, many of the first iPhone buyers were Apple nuts. They’re probably the safest iPhone customers Apple has.)
- In the past, Apple has announced its iPhone several weeks before it goes on sale, partially so details don’t leak out — from the FCC and other people in the know, such as AT&T salespeople — before Apple can give the phone a proper unveiling. And also so people can get their wallets and sneakers ready to wait in line.
- If Steve Jobs is too sick to give a keynote in early June, it seems a stretch to assume he’ll be dramatically better a few weeks later. Even if his medical leave technically isn’t over until “late” June.
- Phil Schiller and Apple’s other executives, such as iPhone software boss Scott Forstall, are perfectly capable of announcing new products, even the iPhone. Schiller was good at Macworld this January and Forstall is excellent any time he’s on stage.
- Apple’s iPhone 3.0 software update includes more than 1,000 new APIs for developers, possibly including new hardware APIs, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber reminds us. When’s a better time to have developer sessions than a massive developer conference?
Gruber, a plugged-in Apple follower, also writes today, “My gut feeling is that we’ve seen the last Steve Jobs keynote address.”
That’s certainly not out of the question. And if that’s true, then there really is no reason for Apple not to announce the new iPhone in front of the huge WWDC crowd on June 8.