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FAQ: Speculation swells as Apple's WWDC '08 nears

Tight lips don't mean no tips; chatter starts with 3G and ends with Me

June 5, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - You're shocked, we're sure, that speculation surrounds Apple and its plans.

Yes, we know. You're shocked that rumors swirl, hearsay happens and scuttlebutt flows freely.

It is, after all, the season when Apple gossip grows to gargantuan proportions, with one of the company's major annual events -- its Worldwide Developers Conference -- set to kick off on Monday, June 9. And to launch the event, CEO Steve Jobs will take the stage and do...what, exactly?

That's the first and foremost question technology watchers and Apple enthusiasts -- developers included -- have been asking since even before the company's last big-time show, January's Macworld.

So, what will Jobs strut? Naturally, we could be as off base as a medium running the hokiest-ever séance. On the other hand, it won't be long before the truth will be out. With that caveat in mind, these are our best guesses.

And then, once WWDC ends next Friday, the rumors can begin anew as we look down the road to Macworld '09.

Will Apple roll out a 3G iPhone? If it doesn't, it'll be the biggest technology letdown of the year. For months, nearly every pundit, analyst and blogger has been wearing off his fingertips writing about the 3G iPhone. And although the hype hasn't reached the level seen last year before the iPhone went on sale, it's darn close.

"A 3G iPhone is almost a certainty," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR).

Some of the best indicators that 3G will be front and center on Monday come from the announcements by mobile carriers that they've inked deals to sell the iPhone -- and more specifically, from the pace of those announcements. The most recent, made yesterday, added Japan, a market that Apple holds dear because sales last quarter there amounted to nearly half a billion dollars. But the past month has seen more than 50 countries appended to the "we sell iPhone" list, which numbered just five in 2007.

Count this one as a done deal, more or less.

What will the new iPhone include? People have been taking stabs at that most of this year and part of last, but other than 3G capability, there's no clear consensus. Some observers, like TBR's Gottheil, figure that the new iPhone models will be slightly larger to accommodate a bigger battery added to the design to match battery longevity in the current iPhone. The faster data access promised by 3G is expected to bring with it a bigger appetite for juice.

Others, including us, have opined that the iPhone 2.0 will sport integrated GPS technology or will be painted black or will come with a better camera.

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