WWDC: What will Apple unveil next week?

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    Pedestrians walk past a window display advertising Apple's iPhone at a Mac Store in the Cheer Creek Mail.
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Apple's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference kicks off on Monday in San Francisco. As the big day approaches, fanboys everywhere are peering into their crystal balls. Will Steve Jobs return? Will a new iPhone debut? Will a brand new gizmo emerge?

While most of the online chatter should be stamped as "rumor," here's what the professional analysts have predicted:

New iPhone?

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With the Palm Pre hitting stores on Saturday, Apple will respond with a new iPhone model, says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

"They had to come out with a new iPhone now, to one-up the Pre," Mr. Munster told USA Today.

He expects the entry model to drop $50 to $149. The higher-end version could come with a video camera, a function that's reportedly already possible with the current iPhone, but locked behind software because its too battery-intensive. Munster thinks both phones will be announced on Monday and go on sale in mid-July.

New iPhone software details?

Charles Wolf with Needham and Co. says the iPhone hardware means little at this point. The really difference between smart phones is the software. The Pre has its Web OS. Google's Android will soon come on more phones. Compared to those two, "Apple has an enormous lead," Wolf says.

Apple already announced upcoming changes to the phone's OS, such as copy/paste and the ability to send images through MMS text messages. Those upgrade will roll out to phones for free this summer. IPod Touch owners will have to pay $9.95 for the new features.

Snow Leopard?

Looking at Apple's original business – computers – many expect new details on the upcoming Mac OS, codenamed Snow Leopard.

Apple may need to make a splash with this one. Windows Vista has been a dud in the eyes of many people, allowing Apple to joke and woo customers over to Macs. However, "Windows 7 is going to be a lot more respectable competitor," says Roger Kay, president of technology research firm Endpoint Technology Associates. "Apple has had a real holiday here while Microsoft has gotten all tangled up in its underwear," but the moment won't last for long.

Jobs on stage?

For some real speculation, fans have wondered if Apple CEO Steve Jobs will appear on stage during the company keynotes that he made famous.

"There's a 20 percent chance he comes out," Munster told USA Today. "And 95 percent chance he's back [on the job] at the end of the month, like Apple says."

The Monitor will cover the WWDC next week, so tune in for some answers.

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