In a press release on Tuesday, Apple announced that the focus on next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be soundly on software. Steve Jobs will come off medical leave to lead a keynote address on Monday, June 6.
The press release has surprised many tech watchers. Apple has been typically cagey before major announcements, and previous WWDC events have seen the launch of new iPhones.
But Apple has decided to show their cards ahead of time and one belief is that the company hopes to dispel rumors that a new iPhone is coming. (Some sources say an iPhone 5 – or iPhone 4G S – will be announced in the fall.)
The focus instead, according to the press release, will be on software, namely new versions of Apple’s operating systems for mobile and Mac – iOS 5 and Mac OSX Lion. But perhaps more exciting for consumers is the official announcement of Apple’s iCloud. The press release doesn’t offer much more than the description “Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering,” though one expected feature of iCloud is the so-called celestial music jukebox, which would include the ability to play music stored in the cloud across different devices.
As recently reported, Apple has closed deals with EMI, Sony, and Warner, and is likely in the final stages of negotiating a licensing deal with Universal, the largest of the four major label groups.
iCloud is expected to replace Apple’s MobileMe, a $100 a year subscription service for online tools like storage and sharing. Apple has had a series of offerings in this arena, including iDisk and .Mac, though iCloud has become most closely associated with a cloud-based iTunes, especially since Apple bought (and quickly shuttered) the online streaming service, Lala, one year ago.