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5 Possibilities For Apple WWDC

With Apple confirming that its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is June 8 through June 12, the rumor mill is abuzz with speculation of a new iPhone, Steve Jobs' return and the unveiling of Snow Leopard.

As with any Apple event, Mac-heads and fanboys are eagerly awaiting what Apple has up its sleeve. The rumor mill is already working overtime concocting some scenarios that may or may not play out over the course of four days in San Francisco.

We thought we'd get in on the action and speculate a little bit ourselves. With that in mind, here are our top five likely, or not-so-likely, possibilities for Apple WWDC, which brings together more than 1,000 Apple engineers to talk shop.

1. Steve Jobs makes his triumphant return to the stage.
It's only been a couple of months since Steve Jobs stepped down from his CEO duties to focus on his health. And while Mr. Apple's well-being is of the utmost importance here, he could be staging a comeback of sorts for WWDC, rising from the ashes like a mighty phoenix, if you will.

Jobs is the heart and soul of Apple, and the chief mind behind many of its generation-defining products. When Jobs took his leave of absence in January, he said he'd be back in late June, so mid-June isn't too far of a stretch, especially for a man who likes to keep his congregation guessing.

If Jobs does return and take the stage at WWDC, however, it could be for the last time, as some industry watchers expect him to use the event as his retirement party, where he will officially pass the torch.

Either way, we hope Jobs has one more conference in him.

2. Apple unveils a new iPhone.
There's no better reason for Jobs to take to the stage again than to unveil a new Apple iPhone model. Using WWDC as the launching pad for the next-generation of the now-iconic smartphone would fall in line with Apple's iPhone standard release schedule. The first-generation iPhone officially hit the market in June 2007, while its successor the Apple iPhone 3G was released in July 2008. It's not hard to imagine that June 2009 would see iPhone version three.

Further fueling the speculation that a new iPhone is in the offing is the recent unveiling of iPhone 3.0 software, which would fit snuggly on a more sophisticated iPhone. iPhone 3.0 was unveiled in February and includes long-awaited iPhone features like copy and paste and a host of other functions not available in previous software versions.

Another signal that a new iPhone could be on the way is the recent rash of price reductions on the iPhone 3G, with AT&T and other carriers offering reduced pricing models and refurbished devices for a deep discount, or without the confines of a two-year agreement. Also, since it will have been about two years since first-generation iPhone buyers scooped up their smartphones in droves, it's time for them to renew their AT&T contracts. A new iPhone could be incentive enough to keep that momentum going.

3. Mac OS X Snow Leopard makes its public debut.
OS X Snow Leopard is expected to dominate the conversation at WWDC. Apple has already unveiled plans for sessions on how to prepare for Snow Leopard's 64-bit architecture, tapping into multi-core and GPU computing, and transitioning from traditional QuickTime APIs to QuickTime X.

Whispers around Snow Leopard first started at last year's WWDC, but Apple quickly downplayed speculation telling developers to wait a year.

This year, rumors are already bubbling to the surface that Apple will officially roll out its next operating system during WWDC, quenching the thirst of developers that have sat tight since Apple first started dropping Snow Leopard hints.

While some developers have had test versions of Snow Leopard for some time, expect WWDC to be its first public unveiling. One rumor that is taking center stage is the possibility of a new user interface for Snow Leopard.

4. Apple will launch a netbook.
This one falls into the not-so-likely, but could still happen category. Rumors of an Apple netbook of been abundant the past few months, especially as the compact, sub-$500 notebook-styled machines have taken the market by storm and show no signs of slowing.

Earlier this month, several sources reported that Wintek, which makes small and midsized computer displays, and Quanta, which builds Apple MacBook and iMac computers, were working with Apple on a 10-inch netbook with a touch-screen display, which could hit the market sometime this year.

Apple, however, has publicly denounced netbooks, with Steve Jobs once saying "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that."

Still, other manufacturers are finding great success with netbooks, especially as the economy nosedives and people think twice about dropping a cool grand on a laptop or notebook. A netbook offering from Apple would go against conventional wisdom, considering the high price tag of its computers, but a netbook could be a boon for Apple as it looks to get its gear into more hands, hands that are pinching pennies a little tighter these days.

5. Blockbuster and Apple team for on-demand video.
TiVo and Blockbuster this week teamed up to allow owners of many TiVo DVR models to take advantage of on-demand movie streaming. The pairing will also put TiVo DVR boxes on Blockbuster store shelves, expanding reach for both companies as Blockbuster seeks to combat the success of Netflix and TiVo battles with cable companies that offer on-demand content.

And while the TiVo-Blockbuster deal dominated headlines, comments by a Blockbuster executive that a deal with Apple was in the works took a back seat. Ken Lewis, senior vice president of digital entertainment for Blockbuster told Reuters that, "You will see us in a large number of other devices going forward." Reuters went on to report that Lewis added that Blockbuster plans to make its system available to Apple products as well. Though Lewis wasn't directly quoted and offered little elaboration on an Apple deal, more details could emerge at WWDC.

Apple already offers downloadable movies and music via iTunes, so unlocking on-demand content wouldn't be too far afield. Apple has made no mention of a Blockbuster partnership, but if Lewis' comments to Reuters were legit, it could mean that Blockbuster will pair up with Apple TV, which serves movies download from iTunes directly to a television. On-demand Blockbuster content could also be made available for the iPhone and some iPod models via iTunes.

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