I won't be attending WWDC this year. I'd love to go, but registration costs even more than the high cost of airfare from the east coast and lodging while I'm there. Since I don't have a patron saint at Apple offering me a free ticket (hint hint), it looks like I'll be watching a time-delayed webcast of the keynote and not much else.
Access to the information disseminated at WWDC has gotten worse and worse over the past few years. ADC Select and Premier members used to be able to download videos of all the WWDC sessions a few weeks after the end of the conference. Those videos were also available for purchase on DVD (free for Premier members). The DVDs were expensive, but still cheaper than attending WWDC, especially when factoring in travel.
Today, the DVDs are no longer offered and Apple only publishes videos of a few selected WWDC sessions for consumption by all ADC members, usually months after the actual event. Why does Apple jealously guard the content presented at WWDC? Is the goal to make it scarce in order justify the price of WWDC tickets and top-tier ADC memberships? Why would Apple want to turn a developer education and evangelism event into an income source?
By all means, Apple can attempt to break even on WWDC. Conferences like that cost time and money to run. But the actual information is much more valuable when widely distributed. Yes, it takes time, effort, and bandwidth to record and publish videos of the sessions, but surely that cost can be offset by some portion of the $500-$3,500 membership fees paid by ADC Select and Premier members.
As of last year, there's no way for an ADC member that does not attend WWDC to get access to all the information presented there—
at any price. [Update: The sessions are available to Select and Premier members.] It's foolish not to provide this information to everyone who wants it, free of charge (provided they agree to an NDA, yada yada; all ADC members already do). Apple should be encouraging development on its platform, not arbitrarily withholding information from developers.
Steve Ballmer was right. Apple needs to smarten up and set WWDC free.
This article originally appeared at Ars Technica. It is reproduced here with permission.