This week is one of the most important events for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . The Mac maker hosts its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, and this year should be jam-packed with announcements -- potentially more so than in previous years.
Last year, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's response to Amazon.com's cloud-based music offering, Amazon Cloud Player, which was launched earlier in the year. Apple's iTunes Match also preempted Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) own Google Music service that officially launched in November after a beta program. He also detailed iCloud and iOS 5, which was subsequently released alongside the iPhone 4S.
What does Apple have in store for this week?
Following its annual cadence, we should expectedly get more details on the next major version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 6, that powers more than 83% of the devices that Cupertino has sold over the past four quarters, when looking at unit sales for Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. That figure climbs even higher when you consider that CEO Tim Cook recently said that Apple has sold roughly 2.8 million Apple TVs (which run iOS) year to date, already outpacing the 2.7 million sold in 2011.
That goes to show just how important the iOS 6 announcements will be, and iOS chief Scott Forstall will probably take the stage to deliver the news to the troops.
There's a good chance we'll see direct Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) integration, much like Twitter was integrated last year, along with possibly an Instagram-esque photo-sharing service built into iCloud. Siri may finally make it to the iPad. Apple is also likely to take a shot at Google by unveiling its own in-house 3-D maps app, built with three acquisitions it's made in recent years.
OS X Mountain Lion is also slated for this summer, so we may get an official date on when the OS will roar onto the scene.
Apple stopped announcing new iPhone hardware last year, and that's likely to remain true this year. Instead, the company is expected to upgrade at least four out of five of its Mac families, featuring the latest and greatest chips from both Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) and NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , with their respective Ivy Bridge and Kepler architectures.
Some of the new computers may see boosted screen resolutions to include Retina Displays, a trend started in Apple's mobile offerings. The MacBook Pros are overdue for a major redesign, while the Mac Pros haven't been updated in two years. Some type of Retina Display appears imminent, as various Mac apps are now popping up boasting Retina graphics, after being approved by Apple.
There should be plenty of hardware announcements this week.
One more thing: Apple TV?
Before you get too excited, I'm not talking about the mythical unicorn of a full-blown Apple TV set. Instead, a recent exclusive BGR report claims that Apple will introduce a software development kit, or SDK, for the Apple TV, allowing third-party developers to officially tap into the platform for the first time.
At All Things D's D10 conference, Cook called the Apple TV "an area of intense interest for us," further stoking speculation of Apple's inevitable foray. Opening up the current Apple TV set-top box platform to third-party developers perfectly lays the foundation to build up and extend Apple's app ecosystem, even to the point where it reduces the need for cumbersome negotiations with traditional content providers.
Traditional content providers aren't fully ready to promote cable-cord-cutting and are probably a major obstacle for Apple's full TV. I'd expect game developers to pounce at the opportunity, and Apple could easily integrate its social service Game Center. Building up a TV app platform now would mean that there would be plenty of content readily available for when Apple is ready to take the wraps off its TV.
At the same time, it doesn't have to officially reveal its hand quite yet, maintaining the guise that apps are for its existing set-top box. Pretty clever, if you ask me.
Apple of my eye
All eyes will be on what Apple unveils, and it will set the competitive mobile landscape for the next year. Google will be right on its toes with its Google I/O conference later this month, where Big G will similarly discuss what's in the Android pipeline.
For mobile watchers, it's going to be a big week, and a big month.
Apple's mobile rise to the top is hardly over. In fact, you can still buy Apple today and look forward to some enviable gains thanks numerous growth catalysts on the horizon. Current and prospective shareholders need to check out this new premium research report available at a non-premium price for more on what's in store in Apple's future.