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Devs Grapple for WWDC Tix as Prices Skyrocket

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 30, 2011 12:00 PM PT

Tickets to Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), to be held in San Francisco in June, are hot.

Devs Grapple for WWDC Tix as Prices Skyrocket

Some would-be attendees seem to be willing to pay thousands to get in on the event -- a quick search on eBay showed tickets being offered at prices ranging from US$1,600 to $4,500 each. Many of them had multiple bids.

What would be worth $4,500 to an app developer? While there are stories of some companies making millions on apps they created for the iTunes App Store, the vast majority of developers aren't doing quite so well.

"$4,000 translates to a lot of application sales," Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Forget the Mercedes-Benz, Lord, Get Me to WWDC

Tickets to this year's WWDC were sold out within hours of being made available Monday, and the scalpers immediately got to work.

Could developers be counting on Apple to make good a statement by Philip Schiller, its senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, earlier this year? Schiller had said that Cupertino would unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS at WWDC and that developers wouldn't want to miss the conference.

"Apple's well-known as the leader in the mobile world, and any announcement made at WWDC has a significant impact on the industry," Vasily Salomatov, cofounder of Appsgeyser.com, told MacNewsWorld.

"iOS is the hottest development platform today, and it only makes sense that tickets on how to develop for it might be valuable," Carl Howe, director of anywhere research at the Yankee Group, told MacNewsWorld.

On the other hand, Apple could be engaged in marketing tactics.

"It could be Apple's strategy to issue a limited number of tickets for the event," Salomatov speculated. "Think of the iPad 2 running out of stock pretty fast, and that just honed people's desire to own one," he elaborated.

"You've really got to get something special out of this if you're willing to pay that kind of money," Lopez Research's Lopez stated.

Or, you could take the economist's point of view -- that the market is ruled by supply and demand -- as Appsgeyser's Salomatov does.

"That's the market price," Salomatov pointed out. "If you can ask for $4,000 and somebody is willing to pay that money, it means the conference is worth $4,000 to them."

Magical WWDC Mystery Tour?

So what is it that developers expect to see at WWDC that has them all excited?

"The big value proposition is that you get to talk directly with the guys who are developing the application interfaces," the Yankee Group's Howe pointed out. "So it's really about one-on-one with the Apple folks more than the big keynote sessions," he added.

"We won't know yet what we'll see at WWDC, but there will definitely be some announcements that would affect the mobile ecospace a lot," Appsgeyser's Salomatov remarked.

"In some ways you have to liken this to a rock concert," Lopez stated. "You want to be there when you think someone's going to announce something that's going to change the world, or be there at one of the last few appearances of Steve Jobs, she added.

"There's something crazy for everybody. Some days, it's a Lady Gaga concert, other days it's WWDC," Lopez said.

Standing on the Corner Watching iPhone 5 Go By

Perhaps Apple may make some announcements about near-field communications (NFC). This is a technology that will let mobile phone users make purchases with their phones by placing them close to appropriately equipped terminals.

Google and American Express are pushing into the NFC world, for instance.

Some reports indicate Apple's holding back on its NFC efforts.

Perhaps Apple may announce iOS 5 and new features such as better voice recognition features.

"I'd expect a lot of emphasis on Lion (OS X 10.7) and iOS 5," the Yankee Group's Howe said.

Other reports state, variously, that Apple will unveil a cloud strategy, that it will unveil iOS 5 deeply integrated with voice recognition technology, and that it may delay the launch of iOS 5 until later in the year.

In fact, rumors have been circulating since last month that the iPhone 5 itself may not be launched at WWDC.

"This is really going to be a software-only affair; it's not going to be about iPhone 5," the Yankee Group's Howe remarked. "I don't expect to see new hardware from Apple until the fall," he elaborated.

"I think with the iPad 2's strong sales that Apple may announce something specific to tablets at WWDC," Salomatov said.

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