Microsoft Seen Heating Up iPhone Efforts at WWDC

It's not uncommon for Apple CEO Steve Jobs to come out with a major surprise or two at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Due to a lost prototype that was examined by gadget site Gizmodo, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) Jobs lost a lot of the surprise value of what's expected to be the unveiling of the iPhone 4G at next week's WWDC.

But don't be surprised if Apple's CEO still has a few tricks up his sleeve even though some rumors have already been shot down.

For example, reports started to circulate last week that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer would make a seven-minute appearance during Jobs' keynote at the sold-out developer conference in San Francisco. A related rumor has Microsoft announcing a deal with Apple to make the Bing search engine the featured search technology on iPhone.

But last Friday on Twitter, Microsoft's director of corporate communications derided the idea that Ballmer would appear onstage with Jobs.

"Steve Ballmer not speaking at Apple Dev Conf. Nor appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Nor riding in the Belmont [Stakes]. Just FYI," tweeted Microsoft's Frank X. Shaw.

Additionally, a financial analyst who initially made the statement to a blog at Barron's that Ballmer would appear at WWDC recanted on Friday afternoon. Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, had initially said that the presentation would be from Microsoft but didn't identify Ballmer as the presenter.

Visual Studio and writing native apps for Apple's Mac, iPhone and iPad

When he recanted, however, he said there would be no presentation from Microsoft at all. For the record, Chowdhry never mentioned Bing. Instead, he had said that the topic of the presentation was to be Microsoft's recently released Visual Studio 2010 development suite. Before he recanted, Chowdhry told Barron's that VS2010 would let developers write native applications that run on iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS.

If the VS2010 rumor turns out to be true, it would be big news for Microsoft developers.

"That would be a huge win for Microsoft since they would be able to build a large app store almost overnight. But again, what does Apple get out of this unless there are competitive reasons against [Google] Android," Randy Brown, a former Microsoft manager turned independent developer and Apple enthusiast, said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

"It should be interesting to see what they show on June 7" at WWDC, Brown added.

As for Bing, the industry site TechCrunch has since updated its blog post that said Apple would announce Bing for the iPhone at WWDC.

"New sources are saying 'It's more complicated than this' and not to expect Google search to be removed from the iPhone next month," said the post by TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington.

There may be some truth to the Bing on iPhone rumor though. In January the story broke that Microsoft and Apple were in negotiations to make Bing the default search engine for the iPhone. While neither company confirmed (or denied) the negotiations reported by BusinessWeek, there could be an announcement at WWDC.

Neither has there been any word to support the rumor that Apple will embrace a version of Microsoft's media streaming technology, Silverlight -- Microsoft's Adobe Flash competitor.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Microsoft, mobile, iPhone, Apple, Bing