I find many similarities between an event like WWDC and a similar one I’ve attended at Redmond long ago; both are big (huge!) events, with thousands of (men) engineers from around the world (and very few women), with a keynote by the founder, lots of events every morning and afternoon, and merchandasing stuff all over the way. And of course, in both cases you get food boxes for lunch.
However, there is one basic difference between both events. Apple not only has interesting technologies to show up, even bleeding edge ones, more often than not on the open and public domain (many of which I can not write about, and boy they are going to make a difference!), but even better than that, it has a vision.
And passion. Cocoa developers are among the most passionate I’ve ever met, and you just can’t find that in a Microsoft event. You can feel that in the (conditioned) air of the Moscone center, almost touch it. New projects everywhere. People discussing about their ideas. Lots of collaboration, openness and willingness to go further. Microsoft’s stuff is, well, boring at best; dull and gray. Enterprise IT is no fun, believe me, but there’s no reason to try to look at it in a different way. And faithful to its own way, Apple is precisely doing that, right now; and what’s about to come will reshape the industry forever.
As Steve Jobs announced yesterday, the iPhone is now ready for the enterprise, given that the majority of companies here and there use Exchange as the basic means of communication. Now the iPhone is ready to access all that information, and I while I can’t tell you more, this is the just the first step. iPhones will be an important player in the enterprise landscape in the future months.
On the other hand, well, Microsoft is asleep. The sales of Macs are booming, and more and more shops are shifting to it. The iPhone is sold out, the WWDC is sold out, a new wave of iPhones is about to hit the street, and there’s much, much more in store for the future.
Personally, I think that the center of gravity of the consumer software industry has shifted (pay attention to the tense of the verb I used). There is one and only clear leader, and that’s Apple. Microsoft should concentrate its effors in what it does best (I think), which is enterprise products, and stop delivering crappy operating systems every 5 years. Any advantage they had 10 years ago has just vanished, and that’s mainly Microsoft’s own fault. Ballmer should have resigned long ago. But again, as Joel said, they have enough cash to continue screwing things up for a long time.
In the meantime, I’m finishing my pastrami sandwich, sitting right beside the Mission conference room, waiting for the next session. I’m actually here in San Francisco and I can barely believe it.