Why Is Apple's Developers Conference Snubbing IT?

It's Needed This Year

Accepting the importance of the iPhone/iPad focus at this year's WWDC points to why an IT track might have been even more important than in the past. IPhones have been working their way into businesses of all types since they arrived in mid-2007. IPads are sure to follow and, depending on where and how they're deployed, may present more challenges to IT departments than the iPhone did. (IPads used in K-12 education, for example, will need to be managed as much as any Mac in a school.)

Although Apple began building some enterprise support into the iPhone OS two years ago, there are still very few resources detailing how to efficiently configure, deploy, secure and manage them in large-scale deployments. With Apple announcing a slew of enterprise-oriented features in iPhone OS 4, and with the iPad representing a completely new entity for IT departments to deal with, an iPhone OS IT track would have been a sorely needed way for IT professionals to learn from Apple how to do these things -- both in the current and future iPhone OS releases.

It would also serve to highlight Apple's commitment to the enterprise world, which may be one of the biggest markets for both the iPhone and the iPad. Given that there are ongoing debates about whether the iPhone and iPad even belong in the workplace, Apple could have used this as a marketing effort to help win over jaded IT professionals and managers who see the devices as mere toys.

What Now?

It seems likely that the missing Mac OS X aspect of WWDC won't be permanent.

With the arrival of the iPad and an upcoming major iPhone OS release (which some have suggested delayed progress on Snow Leopard's successor, Mac OS X 10.7), it may make sense to focus the conference on Apple's mobile platform, particularly if there's scant new information for Mac developers.

Hopefully, next year will see more Mac-focused sessions -- and the return of an IT track, ideally one that has as much iPhone OS as Mac OS X information and resources. In the meantime, IT professionals disillusioned by the lack of enterprise IT-focused information this year have begun proposing a separate conference that would provide resources similar to what Apple might have included. In the long run, whether Apple's official IT track returns or not, this could benefit enterprise users, as it would provide a regular event with a complete focus on IT needs, which are generally different from the needs of developer.

Better yet, the push for a separate event might lead to Apple offer its own separate IT conference in addition to WWDC. Either way, Apple shouldn't ignore its enterprise wares for long.

Ryan Faas is a freelance writer and technology consultant specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. His most recent book is iPhone for Work, published by Apress. You can find more information at www.ryanfaas.com and can e-mail Ryan at ryan@ryanfaas.com.

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