What to expect from Apple and Steve Jobs at WWDC

Some of the suspense has been muted, but there are still answers to what we don't know

Within hours, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will walk onto a San Francisco stage and pitch his company's newest products.

But what's he going to shill and shuck? After all, didn't Gizmodo spill the pot o' beans in April when it grabbed the Web's attention -- and Apple's -- with the iPhone prototype?

True, but there's still plenty we don't know about Jobs' keynote at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), ranging from the official confirmation of Gizmodo's findings to the date when Apple will ship the iPhone OS 4 upgrade.

Based on conversations with analysts and experts over the last several months, we think we have some answers to the outstanding questions.

Will Jobs pull a new iPhone from his pocket? Does a bear use the great outdoors for his personal Port-A-Potty?

Not only has Apple unveiled a new iPhone at the last two WWDCs -- though Jobs was absent last year -- but the clues this year have piled up faster than a tween's cell phone overage charges. Last week's naming of today by AT&T as the official start of its new capped data plans was only the most recent one.

Will I be able to buy a new iPhone today? Depends on what you mean by 'buy.'

The chance you'll have one in hand by day's end is slim-to-none. But we're assuming Apple follows protocol, and makes it available for pre-order today from its online store.

When will the new iPhone hit Apple's stores? Jobs knows. We don't.

But by again turning to the short historical record, the iPhone could go on sale at retail and reach customers who pre-ordered as early as June 18 or as late as July 9, assuming the time between WWDC and on-sale are identical to 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Bet on an early Friday launch: It's Apple's favorite day of the week for new iPhones, and Apple has opened stores significantly early to accommodate eager customers.

What's it going to cost me? The same as before.

Most analysts have bet that Apple will keep prices at $99, $199 and $299 -- unless it throws a curveball and announces a Verizon iPhone at the same time -- with the bottom price occupied by last year's now-retired iPhone 3GS. Wal-Mart has already started selling the iPhone 3GS for $97 to undercut Apple's expected price, and Apple stopped taking orders of 2008's $99 iPhone 3G last week.

Those are U.S. prices -- your mileage may vary if you're outside the borders -- and they will undoubtedly require a two-year contract with love-to-hate AT&T.

Will Jobs announce a new U.S. carrier partner, maybe Verizon? Not likely. The consensus by analysts is that if Apple does end AT&T's exclusive U.S. deal, it won't do that until later this year or sometime in early 2011.

Will the new iPhone have a faster processor, more storage space? The first is a near-certainty if you believe the Vietnamese forum that posted a quick-and-dirty teardown of what it said was a preview fourth-gen iPhone.

The mid-May report out of Vietnam claimed that the next iPhone sports the same Apple-designed A4 SOC (system on a chip) that runs the iPad media tablet, something a U.S. hardware expert said made perfect sense.

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