Following the near instant sell out of tickets for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple quietly announced plans to follow WWDC with a series of Tech Talk events. The notice was posted to the news and announcements section of Apple's developer site late in the day Friday and the announcement also reaffirms Apple's plans to make videos of WWDC sessions available to registered developers while the conference is running. There are no details about what the talks will cover or where they will be held. As far as a time frame, Apple simply said they would begin this fall.
In discussing sessions videos being available during WWDC, Apple goes so far as to say that videos of all WWDC sessions will be available during the conference. The company didn't specify if it will stream sessions live or just post recordings of sessions after they happen (or both).
Here's the full text of the statement on Apple's developer site:
Enthusiasm for WWDC 2013 has been incredible, with tickets selling out in record time. For those who can’t join us in San Francisco, you can still take advantage of great WWDC content, as we’ll be posting videos of all our sessions during the conference. We’ll also be hitting the road this fall with Tech Talks in a city near you. Hope to see you there.
The Tech Talk model isn't new for Apple. The company has invited developers to Tech Talks on three occasions in recent memory, with the most recent being two years ago when Apple held a series of events that it dubbed The iOS 5 Tech Talk World Tour. The nine cities chosen for the talks were Berlin, London, Rome, Beijing, Seoul, Sao Paolo, New York, Seattle, and Austin.
The company held a similar series of one-day events around the world to help developers get started building iOS apps not long after launching the iOS App Store in 2008. The company also held a series of tech talks early during the development cycle for OS X Leopard, which shipped with over 300 new features, many of which had impacts on developers and their Mac applications. Also one-day events, the Leopard Tech Talks ran in late 2006 and 2007.
Each time Apple has used the tech talk model to reach out to its developer community has coincided with a specific new product or technology. In all three of these recent examples, the company has needed to have developers on board with those new technologies to ensure a successful launch or transition. That could imply that iOS 7 (and OS X 10.9) will include some major changes and new features. That would make sense given Apple's reorganization last year, which included removing Scott Forstall as senior VP of iOS, and the rumors that Apple has had to pull developers from OS X to work on iOS 7.
It's also possible that Apple is trying to find news ways with its increasingly large and diverse developer community and is looking to a model that it has used in the past. It seems certain that Apple is rethinking its developer outreach after this weeks sell out. The company may also be testing the waters to see how effective the one-day tech talks can be as an extension of WWDC. That could lead to a regular series of talks, larger two to three day regional conferences, or even to multiple WWDC-like events each year (though maintaining the ratio of engineers to attendees cloud pose a challenge in that scenario).
Whatever happens down the road, one advantage for individual developers and for enterprise developers and IT pros is certain: shorter events that are closer to home come with a smaller price tag than making the trip to WWDC.
As far as the tech talks themselves, they are typically much more narrowly focused than the smorgasbord that is WWDC. The sessions presented, however, are of high caliber and developers have chances to ask questions and get advice from Apple engineers. There isn't the breadth of networking opportunities that's available at WWDC, but the connections made can be more useful in some ways because attendees typically come from the same countries or regions. The five advantages that I identified for enterprise developers and IT pros generally apply to developer tech talks as well.