Lots of news from Apple this week. There is of course the new Shuffle which has the web abuzz with chatter because the controls are on the headphones and not the device (stupid design doomed to fail) and there is the standard Mac Tablet rumor (Yawn; call me when they are releasing it OK?), but the biggest news to me was the fact that Apple has called a press conference next week to introduce some new features of the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software.
Apple, the company that can keep a secret better than the folks in Langley are giving a pre-release sneak peak? To me that means, Apple is feeling a little market pressure folks and that pressure is likely coming from the buzz that's growing around the Palm Pre.
Palm and Sprint Push the Issue
Palm hit the ground running with the Pre at CES in January, and they've managed to keep the hype machine fully stoked ever since. Just the other day they had a web event of their own along with their carrier Sprint. MocoNews.net reports that there wasn't much reason for this event except to keep the hype fires burning and keep the pressure on Cupertino. Of course, pressure works both ways and the iPhone has a distinct advantage in the marketplace, especially with the wildly popular App Store.
Palm and Sprint let it "leak" that there would be an applications store for the Pre too, but it won't be available until later this year (of course). Yet another work in progress. The Pre itself should be out some time in the first half of the year. If these people are smart (and they seem to be), they should release in Mid-May well ahead of the expected June release of the third generation of the iPhone.
Apple's Tit for Tat
Which brings us to the preview, which is distinctly un-Apple like, but competition makes you do things a little differently and I'm guessing that Apple is feeling it a bit. So as a preemptive strike of sorts, Apple will whet our appetites with an invitation-only media town hall next week. The elite will be treated to some pre-release news. Even with Brother Steve on the sidelines, Apple stills know how to generate some buzz of its own and this event should do the trick.
It's still not clear if the Pre is really legitimate competition for Apple, but it sure feels like Apple believes it is. The true test will be when Palm releases their new phone. Will it work as advertised and will there be people lined up on the sidewalks outside of Sprint stores waiting to be the first to own one? Will they fly off the shelves as consumers trip over themselves to get one?
These are the benchmarks of popularity. For now Apple is the reigning champion, and it looks like they are taking steps to ensure they stay that way for the foreseeable future, even if it means revealing some goodies well ahead of the release.