Apple: WWDC isn’t big enough anymore

Apple has an international reach

Apple, iOS, Mac, Apple TV, developers, WWDC, WWDC 2017, India

Apple’s business has grown. The company isn’t defined by a couple of products, but by four platforms from which proliferate many products, services, and more. This morning it opened its first ever App Accelerator scheme in India, reflecting just how vast and diverse its developer community is becoming.

WWDC just isn’t big enough

Apple holds one developer event each year, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). It’s great, but tickets are at a premium, not every developer can make it to the show (even if they have the magic beans it takes to travel there), and many developers aren’t inclined to share their social media accounts on entering the country.

Not only this, but the scale of Apple’s business has grown to a vast extent. It now provides so many products and services that even a two-hour keynote speech just isn’t enough space for it to explain all its plans.

That’s a bad thing. It fosters perception that if a product or service doesn’t get a mention at WWDC (or at another significant Apple event) then it doesn’t matter as much as those that do. This isn’t fair, but it’s how people think – and the solutions the company provides deserve more attention than they may otherwise get. As do those who develop for them.

International times

What I love most about WWDC is its internationalism. There’s something utterly stimulating in finding dozens of races, genders, languages, and nationalities all gathered in one space for a specific purpose. It makes for stimulating conversation and fosters new ways of thinking. That’s what internationalism does, exposure to different ways of looking at things fosters genius (protectionism, of course, fosters fear).

Reflecting its commitment to internationalism, Apple is opening research & development hubs across this planet, from the new App Accelerator scheme in Bangalore it opened this morning, to sites in China, Japan, Indonesia, Europe, and elsewhere.

Apple needs to meet everyone

Apple’s moves show it knows it must travel to identify and attract the talents it needs to drive its growing business forward. It needs a global brains trust.

There is life beyond Cupertino (and San Jose). Today’s Apple developer community crosses international borders, straddles multiple cultures and identities. The next killer app on an Apple platform could conceivably be created by a talented 15-year-old child from the back streets of Jakarta.

The company’s VP marketing, Phil Schiller, made his first visit to India to launch the new App Accelerator today. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said:

“We have around half a million registered developers here and growing dramatically and there are probably about three quarters of a million involved in the app economy with other related jobs. It is a large base, but out of an even larger software community, so it can grow larger still….India is an exciting global market for Apple with incredible growth potential.”

Beyond India

China has become Apple’s second biggest market (it will eventually be the largest market), and we know it is looking elsewhere for opportunity (including Indonesia and Brazil) as it seeks to make its business grow.

To make this happen Apple knows it needs local developers, as local talent is far better equipped to understand and respond to local need.

“There will also be things we will do that are unique to this market as we learn from customers and developers that there is an opportunity to do something special here,” Schiller said.

WWDC 2.0?

This growing internationalism is an opportunity. It wasn’t so long ago that Apple supported multiple public-focused events, the Macworld and Apple Expo conferences.

Thousands of users and vendors loved these events, but Apple withdrew from them because it needed more flexibility – it didn’t want its product launches to be tied to other people’s schedules.

However, the Apple of 2007 is a different Apple than it is today, and as its developer audience becomes ever more international, perhaps it’s time the company reconsidered that decision, and began a new global developer conference closer to where tomorrow’s technology is going to emerge from.

WWDC India? WWDC China? A return to one of NeXT’s spiritual homes, with WWDC Paris? Or (my personal favourite) WWDC Lisbon, Portugal, which I think people would love.

Such an event would massively increase the opportunity for developers in two of Apple’s most important expanding markets (China and India) to meet face-to-face with Apple’s engineers. And would enable Apple to more effectively evangelize its ever-expanding product, platform, and services range.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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